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Title: Letters of a Woman Homesteader
Author: Stewart, Elinore Pruitt
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters of a Woman Homesteader" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *



     LETTERS
     OF A WOMAN
     HOMESTEADER

     BY

     _Elinore Pruitt Stewart_

     [Illustration]


     BOSTON AND NEW YORK
     HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
     The Riverside Press Cambridge



  1913 AND 1914, BY THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY CO.

  1914, BY ELINORE PRUITT STEWART

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

  _Published May 1914_



PUBLISHERS' NOTE


The writer of the following letters is a young woman who lost her
husband in a railroad accident and went to Denver to seek support for
herself and her two-year-old daughter, Jerrine. Turning her hand to the
nearest work, she went out by the day as house-cleaner and laundress.
Later, seeking to better herself, she accepted employment as a
housekeeper for a well-to-do Scotch cattle-man, Mr. Stewart, who had
taken up a quarter-section in Wyoming. The letters, written through
several years to a former employer in Denver, tell the story of her new
life in the new country. They are genuine letters, and are printed as
written, except for occasional omissions and the alteration of some of
the names.

  4 PARK ST.



CONTENTS


    I. THE ARRIVAL AT BURNT FORK                                3

   II. FILING A CLAIM                                           7

  III. A BUSY, HAPPY SUMMER                                    15

   IV. A CHARMING ADVENTURE AND ZEBULON PIKE                   23

    V. SEDALIA AND REGALIA                                     45

   VI. A THANKSGIVING-DAY WEDDING                              54

  VII. ZEBULON PIKE VISITS HIS OLD HOME                        60

 VIII. A HAPPY CHRISTMAS                                       64

   IX. A CONFESSION                                            77

    X. THE STORY OF CORA BELLE                                 81

   XI. ZEBBIE'S STORY                                         100

  XII. A CONTENTED COUPLE                                     117

 XIII. PROVING UP                                             133

  XIV. THE NEW HOUSE                                          137

   XV. THE "STOCKING-LEG" DINNER                              143

  XVI. THE HORSE-THIEVES                                      157

 XVII. AT GAVOTTE'S CAMP                                      180

XVIII. THE HOMESTEADER'S MARRIAGE AND A LITTLE FUNERAL        184

  XIX. THE ADVENTURE OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE                    193

   XX. THE JOYS OF HOMESTEADING                               213

  XXI. A LETTER OF JERRINE'S                                  218

 XXII. THE EFFICIENT MRS. O'SHAUGHNESSY                       220

XXIII. HOW IT HAPPENED                                        225

 XXIV. A LITTLE ROMANCE                                       230

  XXV. AMONG THE MORMONS                                      256

 XXVI. SUCCESS                                                279

       *       *       *       *       *



LETTERS OF A WOMAN HOMESTEADER


I

THE ARRIVAL AT BURNT FORK


     BURNT FORK, WYOMING,
     _April 18, 1909._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

Are you thinking I am lost, like the Babes in the Wood? Well, I am not
and I'm sure the robins would have the time of their lives getting
leaves to cover me out here. I am 'way up close to the Forest Reserve
of Utah, within half a mile of the line, sixty miles from the railroad.
I was twenty-four hours on the train and two days on the stage, and oh,
those two days! The snow was just beginning to melt and the mud was
about the worst I ever heard of.

The first stage we tackled was just about as rickety as it could very
well be and I had to sit with the driver, who was a Mormon and so
handsome that I was not a bit offended when he insisted on making love
all the way, especially after he told me that he was a widower Mormon.
But, of course, as I had no chaperone I looked very fierce (not that
that was very difficult with the wind and mud as allies) and told him
my actual opinion of Mormons in general and particular.

Meantime my new employer, Mr. Stewart, sat upon a stack of baggage and
was dreadfully concerned about something he calls his "Tookie," but I
am unable to tell you what that is. The road, being so muddy, was full
of ruts and the stage acted as if it had the hiccoughs and made us all
talk as though we were affected in the same way. Once Mr. Stewart asked
me if I did not think it a "gey duir trip." I told him he could call it
gay if he wanted to, but it didn't seem very hilarious to me. Every
time the stage struck a rock or a rut Mr. Stewart would "hoot," until
I began to wish we would come to a hollow tree or a hole in the ground
so he could go in with the rest of the owls.

At last we "arriv," and everything is just lovely for me. I have a
very, very comfortable situation and Mr. Stewart is absolutely no
trouble, for as soon as he has his meals he retires to his room and
plays on his bagpipe, only he calls it his "bugpeep." It is "The
Campbells are Coming," without variations, at intervals all day long
and from seven till eleven at night. Sometimes I wish they would make
haste and get here.

There is a saddle horse especially for me and a little shotgun with
which I am to kill sage chickens. We are between two trout streams, so
you can think of me as being happy when the snow is through melting and
the water gets clear. We have the finest flock of Plymouth Rocks and
get so many nice eggs. It sure seems fine to have all the cream I want
after my town experiences. Jerrine is making good use of all the good
things we are having. She rides the pony to water every day.

I have not filed on my land yet because the snow is fifteen feet deep
on it, and I think I would rather see what I am getting, so will wait
until summer. They have just three seasons here, winter and July and
August. We are to plant our garden the last of May. When it is so I can
get around I will see about land and find out all I can and tell you.

I think this letter is about to reach thirty-secondly, so I will send
you my sincerest love and quit tiring you. Please write me when you
have time.

  Sincerely yours,
    ELINORE RUPERT.



II

FILING A CLAIM


     _May 24, 1909._

DEAR, DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

Well, I have filed on my land and am now a bloated landowner. I waited
a long time to even _see_ land in the reserve, and the snow is yet too
deep, so I thought that as they have but three months of summer and
spring together and as I wanted the land for a ranch anyway, perhaps I
had better stay in the valley. So I have filed adjoining Mr. Stewart
and I am well pleased. I have a grove of twelve swamp pines on my
place, and I am going to build my house there. I thought it would be
very romantic to live on the peaks amid the whispering pines, but I
reckon it would be powerfully uncomfortable also, and I guess my twelve
can whisper enough for me; and a dandy thing is, I have all the nice
snow-water I want; a small stream runs right through the center of my
land and I am quite near wood.

A neighbor and his daughter were going to Green River, the county-seat,
and said I might go along, so I did, as I could file there as well as
at the land office; and oh, that trip! I had more fun to the square
inch than Mark Twain or Samantha Allen _ever_ provoked. It took us a
whole week to go and come. We camped out, of course, for in the whole
sixty miles there was but one house, and going in that direction there
is not a tree to be seen, nothing but sage, sand, and sheep. About noon
the first day out we came near a sheep-wagon, and stalking along ahead
of us was a lanky fellow, a herder, going home for dinner. Suddenly it
seemed to me I should starve if I had to wait until we got where we had
planned to stop for dinner, so I called out to the man, "Little
Bo-Peep, have you anything to eat? If you have, we'd like to find it."
And he answered, "As soon as I am able it shall be on the table, if
you'll but trouble to get behind it." Shades of Shakespeare! Songs of
David, the Shepherd Poet! What do you think of us? Well, we got behind
it, and a more delicious "it" I never tasted. Such coffee! And out of
_such_ a pot! I promised Bo-Peep that I would send him a crook with
pink ribbons on it, but I suspect he thinks I am a crook without the
ribbons.

The sagebrush is so short in some places that it is not large enough to
make a fire, so we had to drive until quite late before we camped that
night. After driving all day over what seemed a level desert of sand,
we came about sundown to a beautiful cañon, down which we had to drive
for a couple of miles before we could cross. In the cañon the shadows
had already fallen, but when we looked up we could see the last shafts
of sunlight on the tops of the great bare buttes. Suddenly a great wolf
started from somewhere and galloped along the edge of the cañon,
outlined black and clear by the setting sun. His curiosity overcame him
at last, so he sat down and waited to see what manner of beast we
were. I reckon he was disappointed for he howled most dismally. I
thought of Jack London's "The Wolf."

After we quitted the cañon I saw the most beautiful sight. It seemed as
if we were driving through a golden haze. The violet shadows were
creeping up between the hills, while away back of us the snow-capped
peaks were catching the sun's last rays. On every side of us stretched
the poor, hopeless desert, the sage, grim and determined to live in
spite of starvation, and the great, bare, desolate buttes. The
beautiful colors turned to amber and rose, and then to the general
tone, dull gray. Then we stopped to camp, and such a scurrying around
to gather brush for the fire and to get supper! Everything tasted so
good! Jerrine ate like a man. Then we raised the wagon tongue and
spread the wagon sheet over it and made a bedroom for us women. We made
our beds on the warm, soft sand and went to bed.

It was too beautiful a night to sleep, so I put my head out to look and
to think. I saw the moon come up and hang for a while over the mountain
as if it were discouraged with the prospect, and the big white stars
flirted shamelessly with the hills. I saw a coyote come trotting along
and I felt sorry for him, having to hunt food in so barren a place, but
when presently I heard the whirr of wings I felt sorry for the sage
chickens he had disturbed. At length a cloud came up and I went to
sleep, and next morning was covered several inches with snow. It didn't
hurt us a bit, but while I was struggling with stubborn corsets and
shoes I communed with myself, after the manner of prodigals, and said:
"How much better that I were down in Denver, even at Mrs. Coney's,
digging with a skewer into the corners seeking dirt which _might_ be
there, yea, even eating codfish, than that I should perish on this
desert--of imagination." So I turned the current of my imagination and
fancied that I was at home before the fireplace, and that the backlog
was about to roll down. My fancy was in such good working trim that
before I knew it I kicked the wagon wheel, and I certainly got as warm
as the most "sot" Scientist that ever read Mrs. Eddy could possibly
wish.

After two more such days I "arrived." When I went up to the office
where I was to file, the door was open and the most taciturn old man
sat before a desk. I hesitated at the door, but he never let on. I
coughed, yet no sign but a deeper scowl. I stepped in and modestly
kicked over a chair. He whirled around like I had shot him. "Well?" he
interrogated. I said, "I am powerful glad of it. I was afraid you were
sick, you looked in such pain." He looked at me a minute, then grinned
and said he thought I was a book-agent. Fancy me, a fat, comfortable
widow, trying to sell books!

Well, I filed and came home. If you will believe me, the Scot was glad
to see me and didn't herald the Campbells for two hours after I got
home. I'll tell you, it is mighty seldom any one's so much appreciated.

No, we have no rural delivery. It is two miles to the office, but I go
whenever I like. It is really the jolliest kind of fun to gallop down.
We are sixty miles from the railroad, but when we want anything we send
by the mail-carrier for it, only there is nothing to get.

I know this is an inexcusably long letter, but it is snowing so hard
and you know how I like to talk. I am sure Jerrine will enjoy the cards
and we will be glad to get them. Many things that are a comfort to us
out here came from dear Mrs. ----. Baby has the rabbit you gave her last
Easter a year ago. In Denver I was afraid my baby would grow up devoid
of imagination. Like all the kindergartners, she depended upon others
to amuse her. I was very sorry about it, for my castles in Spain have
been real homes to me. But there is no fear. She has a block of wood
she found in the blacksmith shop which she calls her "dear baby." A
spoke out of a wagon wheel is "little Margaret," and a barrel-stave is
"bad little Johnny."

Well, I must quit writing before you vote me a nuisance. With lots of
love to you,

  Your sincere friend,
    ELINORE RUPERT.



III

A BUSY, HAPPY SUMMER


     _September 11, 1909._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

This has been for me the busiest, happiest summer I can remember. I
have worked very hard, but it has been work that I really enjoy. Help
of any kind is very hard to get here, and Mr. Stewart had been too
confident of getting men, so that haying caught him with too few men to
put up the hay. He had no man to run the mower and he couldn't run both
the mower and the stacker, so you can fancy what a place he was in.

I don't know that I ever told you, but my parents died within a year of
each other and left six of us to shift for ourselves. Our people
offered to take one here and there among them until we should all have
a place, but we refused to be raised on the halves and so arranged to
stay at Grandmother's and keep together. Well, we had no money to hire
men to do our work, so had to learn to do it ourselves. Consequently I
learned to do many things which girls more fortunately situated don't
even know have to be done. Among the things I learned to do was the way
to run a mowing-machine. It cost me many bitter tears because I got
sunburned, and my hands were hard, rough, and stained with machine oil,
and I used to wonder how any Prince Charming could overlook all that in
any girl he came to. For all I had ever read of the Prince had to do
with his "reverently kissing her lily-white hand," or doing some other
fool trick with a hand as white as a snowflake. Well, when my Prince
showed up he didn't lose much time in letting me know that "Barkis was
willing," and I wrapped my hands in my old checked apron and took him
up before he could catch his breath. Then there was no more mowing, and
I almost forgot that I knew how until Mr. Stewart got into such a
panic. If he put a man to mow, it kept them all idle at the stacker,
and he just couldn't get enough men. I was afraid to tell him I could
mow for fear he would forbid me to do so. But one morning, when he was
chasing a last hope of help, I went down to the barn, took out the
horses, and went to mowing. I had enough cut before he got back to show
him I knew how, and as he came back manless he was delighted as well as
surprised. I was glad because I really like to mow, and besides that, I
am adding feathers to my cap in a surprising way. When you see me again
you will think I am wearing a feather duster, but it is only that I
have been said to have almost as much sense as a "mon," and that is an
honor I never aspired to, even in my wildest dreams.

I have done most of my cooking at night, have milked seven cows every
day, and have done all the hay-cutting, so you see I have been working.
But I have found time to put up thirty pints of jelly and the same
amount of jam for myself. I used wild fruits, gooseberries, currants,
raspberries, and cherries. I have almost two gallons of the cherry
butter, and I think it is delicious. I wish I could get some of it to
you, I am sure you would like it.

We began haying July 5 and finished September 8. After working so hard
and so steadily I decided on a day off, so yesterday I saddled the
pony, took a few things I needed, and Jerrine and I fared forth. Baby
can ride behind quite well. We got away by sunup and a glorious day we
had. We followed a stream higher up into the mountains and the air was
so keen and clear at first we had on our coats. There was a tang of
sage and of pine in the air, and our horse was midside deep in
rabbit-brush, a shrub just covered with flowers that look and smell
like goldenrod. The blue distance promised many alluring adventures, so
we went along singing and simply gulping in summer. Occasionally a
bunch of sage chickens would fly up out of the sagebrush, or a jack
rabbit would leap out. Once we saw a bunch of antelope gallop over a
hill, but we were out just to be out, and game didn't tempt us. I
started, though, to have just as good a time as possible, so I had a
fish-hook in my knapsack.

Presently, about noon, we came to a little dell where the grass was as
soft and as green as a lawn. The creek kept right up against the hills
on one side and there were groves of quaking asp and cottonwoods that
made shade, and service-bushes and birches that shut off the ugly hills
on the other side. We dismounted and prepared to noon. We caught a few
grasshoppers and I cut a birch pole for a rod. The trout are so
beautiful now, their sides are so silvery, with dashes of old rose and
orange, their speckles are so black, while their backs look as if they
had been sprinkled with gold-dust. They bite so well that it doesn't
require any especial skill or tackle to catch plenty for a meal in a
few minutes.

In a little while I went back to where I had left my pony browsing,
with eight beauties. We made a fire first, then I dressed my trout
while it was burning down to a nice bed of coals. I had brought a
frying-pan and a bottle of lard, salt, and buttered bread. We gathered
a few service-berries, our trout were soon browned, and with water,
clear, and as cold as ice, we had a feast. The quaking aspens are
beginning to turn yellow, but no leaves have fallen. Their shadows
dimpled and twinkled over the grass like happy children. The sound of
the dashing, roaring water kept inviting me to cast for trout, but I
didn't want to carry them so far, so we rested until the sun was
getting low and then started for home, with the song of the locusts in
our ears warning us that the melancholy days are almost here. We would
come up over the top of a hill into the glory of a beautiful sunset
with its gorgeous colors, then down into the little valley already
purpling with mysterious twilight. So on, until, just at dark, we rode
into our corral and a mighty tired, sleepy little girl was powerfully
glad to get home.

After I had mailed my other letter I was afraid that you would think me
plumb bold about the little Bo-Peep, and was a heap sorrier than you
can think. If you only knew the hardships these poor men endure. They
go two together and sometimes it is months before they see another
soul, and rarely ever a woman. I wouldn't act so free in town, but
these men see people so seldom that they are awkward and embarrassed. I
like to put them at ease, and it is to be done only by being kind of
hail-fellow-well-met with them. So far not one has ever misunderstood
me and I have been treated with every courtesy and kindness, so I am
powerfully glad you understand. They really enjoy doing these little
things like fixing our dinner, and if my poor company can add to any
one's pleasure I am too glad.

  Sincerely yours,
    ELINORE RUPERT.

Mr. Stewart is going to put up my house for me in pay for my extra
work.

I am ashamed of my long letters to you, but I am such a murderer of
language that I have to use it all to tell anything.

Please don't entirely forget me. Your letters mean so much to me and I
will try to answer more promptly.



IV

A CHARMING ADVENTURE AND ZEBULON PIKE


     _September 28, 1909._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

Your second card just reached me and I am plumb glad because, although
I answered your other, I was wishing I could write you, for I have had
the most charming adventure.

It is the custom here for as many women as care to to go in a party
over into Utah to Ashland (which is over a hundred miles away) after
fruit. They usually go in September, and it takes a week to make the
trip. They take wagons and camp out and of course have a good time,
but, the greater part of the way, there isn't even the semblance of a
road and it is merely a semblance anywhere. They came over to invite me
to join them. I was of two minds--I wanted to go, but it seemed a
little risky and a big chance for discomfort, since we would have to
cross the Uinta Mountains, and a snowstorm likely any time. But I
didn't like to refuse outright, so we left it to Mr. Stewart. His
"Ye're nae gang" sounded powerful final, so the ladies departed in awed
silence and I assumed a martyr-like air and acted like a very much
abused woman, although he did only what I wanted him to do. At last, in
sheer desperation he told me the "bairn canna stand the treep," and
that was why he was so determined. I knew why, of course, but I
continued to look abused lest he gets it into his head that he can boss
me. After he had been reduced to the proper plane of humility and had
explained and begged my pardon and had told me to consult only my own
pleasure about going and coming and using his horses, only not to
"expoose" the bairn, why, I forgave him and we were friends once more.

Next day all the men left for the roundup, to be gone a week. I knew I
never could stand myself a whole week. In a little while the ladies
came past on their way to Ashland. They were all laughing and were so
happy that I really began to wish I was one of the number, but they
went their way and I kept wanting to go _somewhere_. I got reckless and
determined to do something real bad. So I went down to the barn and
saddled Robin Adair, placed a pack on "Jeems McGregor," then Jerrine
and I left for a camping-out expedition.

It was nine o'clock when we started and we rode hard until about four,
when I turned Robin loose, saddle and all, for I knew he would go home
and some one would see him and put him into the pasture. We had gotten
to where we couldn't ride anyway, so I put Jerrine on the pack and led
"Jeems" for about two hours longer; then, as I had come to a good place
to camp, we stopped.

While we had at least two good hours of daylight, it gets so cold here
in the evening that fire is very necessary. We had been climbing higher
into the mountains all day and had reached a level tableland where the
grass was luxuriant and there was plenty of wood and water. I unpacked
"Jeems" and staked him out, built a roaring fire, and made our bed in
an angle of a sheer wall of rock where we would be protected against
the wind. Then I put some potatoes into the embers, as Baby and I are
both fond of roasted potatoes. I started to a little spring to get
water for my coffee when I saw a couple of jack rabbits playing, so I
went back for my little shotgun. I shot one of the rabbits, so I felt
very like Leather-stocking because I had killed but one when I might
have gotten two. It was fat and young, and it was but the work of a
moment to dress it and hang it up on a tree. Then I fried some slices
of bacon, made myself a cup of coffee, and Jerrine and I sat on the
ground and ate. Everything smelled and tasted so good! This air is so
tonic that one gets delightfully hungry. Afterward we watered and
restaked "Jeems," I rolled some logs on to the fire, and then we sat
and enjoyed the prospect.

The moon was so new that its light was very dim, but the stars were
bright. Presently a long, quivering wail arose and was answered from a
dozen hills. It seemed just the sound one ought to hear in such a
place. When the howls ceased for a moment we could hear the subdued
roar of the creek and the crooning of the wind in the pines. So we
rather enjoyed the coyote chorus and were not afraid, because they
don't attack people. Presently we crept under our Navajos and, being
tired, were soon asleep.

I was awakened by a pebble striking my cheek. Something prowling on the
bluff above us had dislodged it and it struck me. By my Waterbury it
was four o'clock, so I arose and spitted my rabbit. The logs had left a
big bed of coals, but some ends were still burning and had burned in
such a manner that the heat would go both under and over my rabbit. So
I put plenty of bacon grease over him and hung him up to roast. Then I
went back to bed. I didn't want to start early because the air is too
keen for comfort early in the morning.

The sun was just gilding the hilltops when we arose. Everything, even
the barrenness, was beautiful. We have had frosts, and the quaking
aspens were a trembling field of gold as far up the stream as we could
see. We were 'way up above them and could look far across the valley.
We could see the silvery gold of the willows, the russet and bronze of
the currants, and patches of cheerful green showed where the pines
were. The splendor was relieved by a background of sober gray-green
hills, but even on them gay streaks and patches of yellow showed where
rabbit-brush grew. We washed our faces at the spring,--the grasses that
grew around the edge and dipped into the water were loaded with
ice,--our rabbit was done to a turn, so I made some delicious coffee,
Jerrine got herself a can of water, and we breakfasted. Shortly
afterwards we started again. We didn't know where we were going, but we
were on our way.

That day was more toilsome than the last, but a very happy one. The
meadowlarks kept singing like they were glad to see us. But we were
still climbing and soon got beyond the larks and sage chickens and up
into the timber, where there are lots of grouse. We stopped to noon by
a little lake, where I got two small squirrels and a string of trout.
We had some trout for dinner and salted the rest with the squirrels in
an empty can for future use. I was anxious to get a grouse and kept
close watch, but was never quick enough. Our progress was now slower
and more difficult, because in places we could scarcely get through the
forest. Fallen trees were everywhere and we had to avoid the branches,
which was powerful hard to do. Besides, it was quite dusky among the
trees long before night, but it was all so grand and awe-inspiring.
Occasionally there was an opening through which we could see the snowy
peaks, seemingly just beyond us, toward which we were headed. But when
you get among such grandeur you get to feel how little you are and how
foolish is human endeavor, except that which reunites us with the
mighty force called God. I was plumb uncomfortable, because all my own
efforts have always been just to make the best of everything and to
take things as they come.

At last we came to an open side of the mountain where the trees were
scattered. We were facing south and east, and the mountain we were on
sheered away in a dangerous slant. Beyond us still greater wooded
mountains blocked the way, and in the cañon between night had already
fallen. I began to get scary. I could only think of bears and
catamounts, so, as it was five o'clock, we decided to camp. The trees
were immense. The lower branches came clear to the ground and grew so
dense that any tree afforded a splendid shelter from the weather, but I
was nervous and wanted one that would protect us against any possible
attack. At last we found one growing in a crevice of what seemed to be
a sheer wall of rock. Nothing could reach us on two sides, and in front
two large trees had fallen so that I could make a log heap which would
give us warmth and make us safe. So with rising spirits I unpacked and
prepared for the night. I soon had a roaring fire up against the logs
and, cutting away a few branches, let the heat into as snug a bedroom
as any one could wish. The pine needles made as soft a carpet as the
wealthiest could afford. Springs abound in the mountains, so water was
plenty. I staked "Jeems" quite near so that the firelight would
frighten away any wild thing that tried to harm him. Grass was very
plentiful, so when he was made "comfy" I made our bed and fried our
trout. The branches had torn off the bag in which I had my bread, so it
was lost in the forest, but who needs bread when they have good, mealy
potatoes? In a short time we were eating like Lent was just over. We
lost all the glory of the sunset except what we got by reflection,
being on the side of the mountain we were, with the dense woods
between. Big sullen clouds kept drifting over and a wind got lost in
the trees that kept them rocking and groaning in a horrid way. But we
were just as cozy as we could be and rest was as good as anything.

I wish you could once sleep on the kind of bed we enjoyed that night.
It was both soft and firm, with the clean, spicy smell of the pine. The
heat from our big fire came in and we were warm as toast. It was so
good to stretch out and rest. I kept thinking how superior I was since
I dared to take such an outing when so many poor women down in Denver
were bent on making their twenty cents per hour in order that they
could spare a quarter to go to the "show." I went to sleep with a
powerfully self-satisfied feeling, but I awoke to realize that pride
goeth before a fall.

I could hardly remember where I was when I awoke, and I could almost
hear the silence. Not a tree moaned, not a branch seemed to stir. I
arose and my head came in violent contact with a snag that was not
there when I went to bed. I thought either I must have grown taller or
the tree shorter during the night. As soon as I peered out, the mystery
was explained.

Such a snowstorm I never saw! The snow had pressed the branches down
lower, hence my bumped head. Our fire was burning merrily and the heat
kept the snow from in front. I scrambled out and poked up the fire;
then, as it was only five o'clock, I went back to bed. And then I began
to think how many kinds of idiot I was. Here I was thirty or forty
miles from home, in the mountains where no one goes in the winter and
where I knew the snow got to be ten or fifteen feet deep. But I could
never see the good of moping, so I got up and got breakfast while Baby
put her shoes on. We had our squirrels and more baked potatoes and I
had delicious black coffee.

After I had eaten I felt more hopeful. I knew Mr. Stewart would hunt
for me if he knew I was lost. It was true, he wouldn't know which way
to start, but I determined to rig up "Jeems" and turn him loose, for I
knew he would go home and that he would leave a trail so that I could
be found. I hated to do so, for I knew I should always have to be
powerfully humble afterwards. Anyway it was still snowing, great, heavy
flakes; they looked as large as dollars. I didn't want to start "Jeems"
until the snow stopped because I wanted him to leave a clear trail. I
had sixteen loads for my gun and I reasoned that I could likely kill
enough food to last twice that many days by being careful what I shot
at. It just kept snowing, so at last I decided to take a little hunt
and provide for the day. I left Jerrine happy with the towel rolled
into a baby, and went along the brow of the mountain for almost a
mile, but the snow fell so thickly that I couldn't see far. Then I
happened to look down into the cañon that lay east of us and saw smoke.
I looked toward it a long time, but could make out nothing but smoke,
but presently I heard a dog bark and I knew I was near a camp of some
kind. I resolved to join them, so went back to break my own camp.

At last everything was ready and Jerrine and I both mounted. Of all the
times! If you think there is much comfort, or even security, in riding
a pack-horse in a snowstorm over mountains where there is no road, you
are plumb wrong. Every once in a while a tree would unload its snow
down our backs. "Jeems" kept stumbling and threatening to break our
necks. At last we got down the mountain-side, where new danger
confronted us,--we might lose sight of the smoke or ride into a bog.
But at last, after what seemed hours, we came into a "clearing" with a
small log house and, what is rare in Wyoming, a fireplace. Three or
four hounds set up their deep baying, and I knew by the chimney and the
hounds that it was the home of a Southerner. A little old man came
bustling out, chewing his tobacco so fast, and almost frantic about his
suspenders, which it seemed he couldn't get adjusted.

As I rode up, he said, "Whither, friend?" I said "Hither." Then he
asked, "Air you spying around for one of them dinged game wardens arter
that deer I killed yisteddy?" I told him I had never even seen a game
warden and that I didn't know he had killed a deer. "Wall," he said,
"air you spying around arter that gold mine I diskivered over on the
west side of Baldy?" But after a while I convinced him that I was no
more nor less than a foolish woman lost in the snow. Then he said,
"Light, stranger, and look at your saddle." So I "lit" and looked, and
then I asked him what part of the South he was from. He answered, "Yell
County, by gum! The best place in the United States, or in the world,
either." That was my introduction to Zebulon Pike Parker.

Only two "Johnny Rebs" could have enjoyed each other's company as
Zebulon Pike and myself did. He was so small and so old, but so
cheerful and so sprightly, and a real Southerner! He had a big, open
fireplace with backlogs and andirons. How I enjoyed it all! How we
feasted on some of the deer killed "yisteddy," and real corn-pone baked
in a skillet down on the hearth. He was so full of happy recollections
and had a few that were not so happy! He is, in some way, a kinsman of
Pike of Pike's Peak fame, and he came west "jist arter the wah" on some
expedition and "jist stayed." He told me about his home life back in
Yell County, and I feel that I know all the "young uns."

There was George Henry, his only brother; and there were Phoebe and
"Mothie," whose real name is Martha; and poor little Mary Ann, whose
death was described so feelingly that no one could keep back the
tears. Lastly there was little Mandy, the baby and his favorite, but
who, I am afraid, was a selfish little beast since she had to have her
prunellas when all the rest of the "young uns" had to wear shoes that
old Uncle Buck made out of rawhide. But then "her eyes were blue as
morning-glories and her hair was jist like corn-silk, so yaller and
fluffy." Bless his simple, honest heart! His own eyes are blue and
kind, and his poor, thin little shoulders are so round that they almost
meet in front. How he loved to talk of his boyhood days! I can almost
see his father and George Henry as they marched away to the "wah"
together, and the poor little mother's despair as she waited day after
day for some word, that never came.

Poor little Mary Ann was drowned in the bayou, where she was trying to
get water-lilies. She had wanted a white dress all her life and so,
when she was dead, they took down the white cross-bar curtains and
Mother made the little shroud by the light of a tallow dip. But, being
made by hand, it took all the next day, too, so that they buried her by
moonlight down back of the orchard under the big elm where the children
had always had their swing. And they lined and covered her grave with
big, fragrant water-lilies. As they lowered the poor little home-made
coffin into the grave the mockingbirds began to sing and they sang all
that dewy, moonlight night. Then little Mandy's wedding to Judge
Carter's son Jim was described. She wore a "cream-colored poplin with a
red rose throwed up in it," and the lace that was on Grandma's wedding
dress. There were bowers of sweet Southern roses and honeysuckle and
wistaria. Don't you know she was a dainty bride?

At last it came out that he had not heard from home since he left it.
"Don't you ever write?" I asked. "No, I am not an eddicated man,
although I started to school. Yes'm, I started along of the rest, but
they told me it was a Yankee teacher and I was 'fraid, so when I got
most to the schoolhouse I hid in the bushes with my spelling-book, so
that is all the learning I ever got. But my mother was an eddicated
woman, yes'm, she could both read and write. I have the Bible she give
me yit. Yes'm, you jist wait and I'll show you." After some rummaging
in a box he came back with a small leather-bound Bible with print so
small it was hard to read. After turning to the record of births and
deaths he handed it to me, his wrinkled old face shining with pride as
he said, "There, my mother wrote that with her own hand." I took the
book and after a little deciphered that "Zebulon Pike Parker was born
Feb. 10, 1830," written in the stiff, difficult style of long ago and
written with pokeberry ink. He said his mother used to read about some
"old feller that was jist covered with biles," so I read Job to him,
and he was full of surprise they didn't "git some cherry bark and some
sasparilly and bile it good and gin it to him."

He had a side room to his cabin, which was his bedroom; so that night
he spread down a buffalo robe and two bearskins before the fire for
Jerrine and me. After making sure there were no moths in them, I spread
blankets over them and put a sleepy, happy little girl to bed, for he
had insisted on making molasses candy for her because they happened to
be born on the same day of the month. And then he played the fiddle
until almost one o'clock. He played all the simple, sweet, old-time
pieces, in rather a squeaky, jerky way, I am afraid, but the music
suited the time and the place.

Next morning he called me early and when I went out I saw such a
beautiful sunrise, well worth the effort of coming to see. I had
thought his cabin in a cañon, but the snow had deceived me, for a few
steps from the door the mountains seemed to drop down suddenly for
several hundred feet and the first of the snow peaks seemed to lie
right at our feet. Around its base is a great swamp, in which the swamp
pines grow very thickly and from which a vapor was rising that got
about halfway up the snow peak all around. Fancy to yourself a big
jewel-box of dark green velvet lined with silver chiffon, the snow peak
lying like an immense opal in its center and over all the amber light
of a new day. That is what it looked most like.

Well, we next went to the corral, where I was surprised to find about
thirty head of sheep. Some of them looked like they should have been
sold ten years before. "Don't you ever sell any of your sheep?" I
asked. "No'm. There was a feller come here once and wanted to buy some
of my wethers, but I wouldn't sell any because I didn't need any
money." Then he went from animal to animal, caressing each and talking
to them, calling them each by name. He milked his one cow, fed his two
little mules, and then we went back to the house to cook breakfast. We
had delicious venison steak, smoking hot, and hoe-cakes and the
"bestest" coffee, and honey.

After breakfast we set out for home. Our pack transferred to one of the
little mules, we rode "Jeems," and Mr. Parker rode the other mule. He
took us another way, down cañon after cañon, so that we were able to
ride all the time and could make better speed. We came down out of the
snow and camped within twelve miles of home in an old, deserted ranch
house. We had grouse and sage chicken for supper. I was so anxious to
get home that I could hardly sleep, but at last I did and was only
awakened by the odor of coffee, and barely had time to wash before
Zebulon Pike called breakfast. Afterwards we fixed "Jeems's" pack so
that I could still ride, for Zebulon Pike was very anxious to get back
to his "critters."

Poor, lonely, childlike little man! He tried to tell me how glad he had
been to entertain me. "Why," he said, "I was plumb glad to see you and
right sorry to have you go. Why, I would jist as soon talk to you as to
a nigger. Yes'm, I would. It has been almost as good as talking to old
Aunt Dilsey." If a Yankee had said the same to me I would have demanded
instant apology, but I know how the Southern heart longs for the dear,
kindly old "niggers," so I came on homeward, thankful for the first
time that I can't talk correctly.

I got home at twelve and found, to my joy, that none of the men had
returned, so I am safe from their superiority for a while, at least.

With many apologies for this outrageous letter, I am

  Your ex-Washlady,
    ELINORE RUPERT.



V

SEDALIA AND REGALIA


     _November 22, 1909._

MY DEAR FRIEND,--

I was dreadfully afraid that my last letter was too much for you and
now I feel plumb guilty. I really don't know how to write you, for I
have to write so much to say so little, and now that my last letter
made you sick I almost wish so many things didn't happen to me, for I
always want to tell you. Many things have happened since I last wrote,
and Zebulon Pike is not done for by any means, but I guess I will tell
you my newest experience.

I am making a wedding dress. Don't grin; it isn't mine,--worse luck!
But I must begin at the beginning. Just after I wrote you before, there
came a terrific storm which made me appreciate indoor coziness, but as
only Baby and I were at home I expected to be very lonely. The snow was
just whirling when I saw some one pass the window. I opened the door
and in came the dumpiest little woman and two daughters. She asked me
if I was "Mis' Rupit." I told her that she had almost guessed it, and
then she introduced herself. She said she was "Mis' Lane," that she had
heard there was a new stranger in the country, so she had brought her
twin girls, Sedalia and Regalia, to be neighborly. While they were
taking off their many coats and wraps it came out that they were from
Linwood, thirty miles away. I was powerful glad I had a pot roast and
some baked beans.

After we had put the horses in the barn we had dinner and I heard the
story of the girls' odd names. The mother is one of those "comfy," fat
little women who remain happy and bubbling with fun in spite of hard
knocks. I had already fallen in love with Regalia, she is so jolly and
unaffected, so fat and so plain. Sedalia has a veneer of most
uncomfortable refinement. She was shocked because Gale ate all the
roast she wanted, and if I had been very sensitive I would have been in
tears, because I ate a helping more than Gale did.

But about the names. It seemed that "Mis' Lane" married quite young,
was an orphan, and had no one to tell her things she should have known.
She lived in Missouri, but about a year after her marriage the young
couple started overland for the West. It was in November, and one night
when they had reached the plains a real blue blizzard struck them.
"Mis' Lane" had been in pain all day and soon she knew what was the
matter. They were alone and it was a day's travel back to the last
house. The team had given out and the wind and sleet were seeing which
could do the most meanness. At last the poor man got a fire started and
a wagon sheet stretched in such a manner that it kept off the sleet. He
fixed a bed under the poor shelter and did all he could to keep the
fire from blowing away, and there, a few hours later, a little girl
baby was born. They melted sleet in the frying-pan to get water to wash
it. "Mis' Lane" kept feeling no better fast, and about the time they
got the poor baby dressed a second little one came.

That she told me herself is proof she didn't die, I guess, but it is
right hard to believe she didn't. Luckily the fire lasted until the
babies were dressed and the mother began to feel better, for there was
no wood. Soon the wind stopped and the snow fell steadily. It was
warmer, and the whole family snuggled up under the wagon sheet and
slept.

Mr. Lane is a powerful good husband. He waited two whole days for his
wife to gain strength before he resumed the journey, and on the third
morning he actually carried her to the wagon. Just think of it! Could
more be asked of any man?

Every turn of the wheels made poor "Mis' Lane" more homesick. Like Mrs.
Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, she had a taste for geographical names,
and "Mis' Lane" is very loyal, so she wanted to call the little
first-born "Missouri." Mr. Lane said she might, but that if she did he
would call the other one "Arkansas." Sometimes homesickness would
almost master her. She would hug up the little red baby and murmur
"Missouri," and then daddy would growl playfully to "Arkansas." It went
on that way for a long time and at last she remembered that Sedalia was
in Missouri, so she felt glad and really named the older baby
"Sedalia." But she could think of nothing to match the name and was in
constant fear the father would name the other baby "Little Rock."

For three years poor Gale was just "t'other one." Then the Lanes went
to Green River where some lodge was having a parade. They were watching
the drill when a "bystander that was standing by" said something about
the "fine regalia." Instantly "Mis' Lane" thought of her unnamed
child; so since that time Gale has had a name.

There could be no two people more unlike than the sisters. Sedalia is
really handsome, and she is thin. But she is vain, selfish, shallow,
and conceited. Gale is not even pretty, but she is clean and she is
honest. She does many little things that are not exactly polite, but
she is good and true. They both went to the barn with me to milk. Gale
tucked up her skirts and helped me. She said, "I just love a stable,
with its hay and comfortable, contented cattle. I never go into one
without thinking of the little baby Christ. I almost expect to see a
little red baby in the straw every time I peek into a manger."

Sedalia answered, "Well, for Heaven's sake, get out of the stable to
preach. Who wants to stand among these smelly cows all day?"

They stayed with us almost a week, and one day when Gale and I were
milking she asked me to invite her to stay with me a month. She said
to ask her mother, and left her mother and myself much together. But
Sedalia stuck to her mother like a plaster and I just could not stand
Sedalia a whole month. However, I was spared all embarrassment, for
"Mis' Lane" asked me if I could not find work enough to keep Gale busy
for a month or two. She went on to explain that Sedalia was expecting
to be married and that Gale was so "common" she would really spoil the
match. I was surprised and indignant, especially as Sedalia sat and
listened so brazenly, so I said I thought Sedalia would need all the
help she could get to get married and that I should be glad to have
Gale visit me as long as she liked.

So Gale stayed on with me. One afternoon she had gone to the
post-office when I saw Mr. Patterson ride up. He went into the
bunk-house to wait until the men should come. Now, from something Gale
had said I fancied that Bob Patterson must be the right man. I am
afraid I am not very delicate about that kind of meddling, and while I
had been given to understand that Patterson was the man Sedalia
expected to marry, I didn't think any man would choose her if he could
get Gale, so I called him. We had a long chat and he told me frankly he
wanted Gale, but that she didn't care for him, and that they kept
throwing "that danged Sedalia" at him. Then he begged my pardon for
saying "danged," but I told him I approved of the word when applied to
Sedalia, and broke the news to him that Gale was staying with me. He
fairly beamed. So that night I left Gale to wash dishes and Bob to help
her while I held Mr. Stewart a prisoner in the stable and questioned
him regarding Patterson's prospects and habits. I found both all that
need be, and told Mr. Stewart about my talk with Patterson, and he
said, "Wooman, some day ye'll gang ploom daft." But he admitted he was
glad it was the "bonny lassie, instead of the bony one." When we went
to the house Mr. Stewart said, "Weel, when are you douchy bairns
gangin' to the kirk?"

They left it to me, so I set Thanksgiving Day, and as there is no "kirk
to gang to," we are going to have a justice of the peace and they are
to be married here. We are going to have the dandiest dinner that I can
cook, and Mr. Stewart went to town next day for the wedding dress, the
gayest plaid outside of Caledonia. But Gale has lots of sense and is
going to wear it. I have it almost finished, and while it doesn't look
just like a Worth model, still it looks plumb good for me to have made.
The boys are going up after Zebulon Pike, and Mr. Stewart is going
after "Mis' Lane." Joy waves are radiating from this ranch and about
Thanksgiving morning one will strike you.

With lots of love and happy wishes,

  Your ex-Washlady,
    ELINORE RUPERT.



VI

A THANKSGIVING-DAY WEDDING


DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

... I think every one enjoyed our Thanksgiving programme except poor
Gale. She was grieved, I verily believe, because Mr. Patterson is not
Mormon and could not take Sedalia and herself also. I suppose it seemed
odd to her to be unable to give way to Sedalia as she had always done.

I had cooked and cooked. Gale and Zebulon Pike both helped all they
could. The wedding was to be at twelve o'clock, so at ten I hustled
Gale into my room to dress. I had to lock the door to keep her in, and
I divided my time between the last touches to my dinner and the
finishing touches to Gale's toilet and receiving the people. The Lane
party had not come yet, and I was scared to death lest Sedalia had had
a tantrum and that Mr. Stewart would not get back in time. At last I
left the people to take care of themselves, for I had too much on my
mind to bother with them. Just after eleven Mr. Stewart, Mis' Lane,
Sedalia, and Pa Lane "arriv" and came at once into the kitchen to warm.
In a little while poor, frightened Gale came creeping in, looking
guilty. But she looked lovely, too, in spite of her plaid dress. She
wore her hair in a coronet braid, which added dignity and height, as
well as being simple and becoming. Her mother brought her a wreath for
her hair, of lilies of the valley and tiny pink rosebuds. It might seem
a little out of place to one who didn't see it, but the effect was
really charming.

Sedalia didn't know that Mr. Stewart had given Gale her dress, so, just
to be nasty, she said, as soon as she saw Gale, "Dear me, when are you
going to dress, Gale? You will hardly have time to get out of that
horse-blanket you are wearing and get into something decent." You see,
she thought it was one of my dresses fixed over for Gale. Presently
Sedalia asked me if I was invited to the "function." She had some kind
of rash on her face and Zebulon Pike noticed the rash and heard the
word "function," so he thought that was the name of some disease and
asked Mr. Stewart if the "function" was "catching." Mr. Stewart had
heard Sedalia, but knew "Zebbie" had not heard all that was said and
how he got the idea he had, so he answered, "Yes, if ye once get the
fever." So Zebulon Pike privately warned every one against getting the
"function" from Sedalia. There are plenty of people here who don't know
exactly what a function is, myself among them. So people edged away
from Sedalia, and some asked her if she had seen the doctor and what he
thought of her case. Poor girl, I'm afraid she didn't have a very
enjoyable time.

At last the "jestice" of the peace came, and I hope they live happy
ever afterward. That night a dance was given to celebrate the event
and we began to have dinner immediately after the wedding so as to get
through in time to start, for dances are never given in the home here,
but in "the hall." Every settlement has one and the invitations are
merely written announcements posted everywhere. We have what Sedalia
calls "homogenous" crowds. I wouldn't attempt to say what she means,
but as everybody goes no doubt she is right.

Our dinner was a success, but that is not to be wondered at. Every
woman for miles around contributed. Of course we had to borrow dishes,
but we couldn't think of seating every one; so we set one table for
twenty-four and had three other long tables, on one of which we placed
all the meats, pickles, and sauces, on another the vegetables, soup,
and coffee, and on the third the pie, cakes, ice-cream, and other
desserts. We had two big, long shelves, one above the other, on which
were the dishes. The people helped themselves to dishes and neighbors
took turns at serving from the tables, so people got what they wanted
and hunted themselves a place to sit while they ate. Two of the cowboys
from this ranch waited upon the table at which were the wedding party
and some of their friends. Boys from other ranches helped serve and
carried coffee, cake, and ice-cream. The tablecloths were tolerably
good linen and we had ironed them wet so they looked nice. We had white
lace-paper on the shelves and we used drawn-work paper napkins. As I
said, we borrowed dishes, or, that is, every woman who called herself
our neighbor brought whatever she thought we would need. So after every
one had eaten I suggested that they sort out their dishes and wash
them, and in that way I was saved all that work. We had everything done
and were off to the dance by five o'clock. We went in sleds and
sleighs, the snow was so deep, but it was all so jolly. Zebbie, Mr.
Stewart, Jerrine, and I went in the bobsled. We jogged along at a
comfortable pace lest the "beasties" should suffer, and every now and
then a merry party would fly past us scattering snow in our faces and
yelling like Comanches. We had a lovely moon then and the snow was so
beautiful! We were driving northward, and to the south and back of us
were the great somber, pine-clad Uintah Mountains, while ahead and on
every side were the bare buttes, looking like old men of the
mountains,--so old they had lost all their hair, beard, and teeth.



VII

ZEBULON PIKE VISITS HIS OLD HOME


     _December 28, 1909._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

Our Thanksgiving affair was the most enjoyable happening I can remember
for a long time. Zebulon Pike came, but I had as a bait for him two fat
letters from home. As soon as I came back from his place I wrote to
Mrs. Carter and trusted to luck for my letter to reach her. I told her
all I could about her brother and how seldom he left his mountain home.
I asked her to write him all she could in one letter, as the trips
between our place and his were so few and far between. So when she
received my letter she wrote all she could think of, and then sent her
letter and mine to Mothie and Phoebe, who are widows living in the
old home. They each took turns writing, so their letters are a complete
record of the years "Zebbie" has been gone. The letters were addressed
to me along with a cordial letter from Mrs. Carter asking me to see
that he got them and to use my judgment in the delivering. I couldn't
go myself, but I wanted to read the letters to him and to write the
answers; so I selected one piece of news I felt would bring him to hear
the rest without his knowing how much there was for him.

Well, the boys brought him, and a more delighted little man I am sure
never lived. I read the letters over and over, and answers were hurried
off. He was dreadfully homesick, but couldn't figure on how he could
leave the "critters," or how he could trust himself on a train. Mr.
Stewart became interested, and he is a very resourceful man, so an old
Frenchman was found who had no home and wanted a place to stay so he
could trap. He was installed at Zebulon Pike's with full instructions
as to each "critter's" peculiarities and needs. Then one of the boys,
who was going home for Christmas to Memphis, was induced to wait for
Mr. Parker and to see him safe to Little Rock. His money was banked for
him, and Mr. Stewart saw that he was properly clothed and made
comfortable for the trip. Then he sent a telegram to Judge Carter, who
met Zebulon Pike at Little Rock, and they had a family reunion in Yell
County. I have had some charming letters from there, but that only
proves what I have always said, that I am the luckiest woman in finding
really lovely people and having really happy experiences. Good things
are constantly happening to me. I wish I could tell you about my happy
Christmas, but one of my New Year's resolutions was to stop loading you
down with two-thousand-word letters.

From something you wrote I think I must have written boastingly to you
at some time. I have certainly not intended to, and you must please
forgive me and remember how ignorant I am and how hard it is for me to
express myself properly. I felt after I had written to Mr. Parker's
people that I had taken a liberty, but luckily it was not thought of in
that way by them. If you only knew how far short I fall of my own hopes
you would know I could _never_ boast. Why, it keeps me busy making over
mistakes just like some one using old clothes. I get myself all ready
to enjoy a success and find that I have to fit a failure. But one
consolation is that I generally have plenty of material to cut
generously, and many of my failures have proved to be real blessings.

I do hope this New Year may bring to you the desire of your heart and
all that those who love you best most wish for you.

With lots and lots of love from baby and myself.

  Your ex-washlady,
    ELINORE RUPERT.



VIII

A HAPPY CHRISTMAS


DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

My happy Christmas resulted from the ex-sheriff of this county being
snowbound here. It seems that persons who come from a lower altitude to
this country frequently become bewildered, especially if in poor
health, leave the train at any stop and wander off into the hills,
sometimes dying before they are found. The ex-sheriff cited a case,
that of a young German who was returning from the Philippines, where he
had been discharged after the war. He was the only child of his widowed
mother, who has a ranch a few miles from here. No one knew he was
coming home. One day the cook belonging to the camp of a construction
gang went hunting and came back running, wild with horror. He had found
the body of a man. The coroner and the sheriff were notified, and next
morning went out for the body, but the wolves had almost destroyed it.
High up in a willow, under which the poor man had lain down to die,
they saw a small bundle tied in a red bandanna and fast to a branch.
They found a letter addressed to whoever should find it, saying that
the body was that of Benny Louderer and giving them directions how to
spare his poor old mother the awful knowledge of how he died. Also
there was a letter to his mother asking her not to grieve for him and
to keep their days faithfully. "Their days," I afterward learned, were
anniversaries which they had always kept, to which was added "Benny's
day."

Poor boy! When he realized that death was near his every thought was
for the mother. Well, they followed his wishes, and the casket
containing the bare, gnawed bones was sealed and never opened. And to
this day poor Mrs. Louderer thinks her boy died of some fever while yet
aboard the transport. The manner of his death has been kept so secret
that I am the only one who has heard it.

I was so sorry for the poor mother that I resolved to visit her the
first opportunity I had. I am at liberty to go where I please when
there is no one to cook for. So, when the men left, a few days later, I
took Jerrine and rode over to the Louderer ranch. I had never seen Mrs.
Louderer and it happened to be "Benny's day" that I blundered in upon.
I found her to be a dear old German woman living all alone, the people
who do the work on the ranch living in another house two miles away.
She had been weeping for hours when I got there, but in accordance with
her custom on the many anniversaries, she had a real feast prepared,
although no one had been bidden.

She says that God always sends her guests, but that was the first time
she had had a little girl. She had a little daughter once herself,
little Gretchen, but all that was left was a sweet memory and a
pitifully small mound on the ranch, quite near the house, where Benny
and Gretchen are at rest beside "der fader, Herr Louderer."

She is such a dear old lady! She made us so welcome and she is so
entertaining. All the remainder of the day we listened to stories of
her children, looked at her pictures, and Jerrine had a lovely time
with a wonderful wooden doll that they had brought with them from
Germany. Mrs. Louderer forgot to weep in recalling her childhood days
and showing us her treasures. And then our feast,--for it was verily a
feast. We had goose and it was _so_ delicious. I couldn't tell you half
the good things any more than I could have eaten some of all of them.

We sat talking until far into the night, and she asked me how I was
going to spend Christmas. I told her, "Probably in being homesick." She
said that would never do and suggested that we spend it together. She
said it was one of their special days and that the only happiness left
her was in making some one else happy; so she had thought of cooking
some nice things and going to as many sheep camps as she could, taking
with her the good things to the poor exiles, the sheep-herders. I liked
the plan and was glad to agree, but I never dreamed I should have so
lovely a time. When the queer old wooden clock announced two we went to
bed.

I left quite early the next morning with my head full of Christmas
plans. You may not know, but cattle-men and sheep-men cordially hate
each other. Mr. Stewart is a cattle-man, and so I didn't mention my
Christmas plans to him. I saved all the butter I could spare for the
sheep-herders; they never have any. That and some jars of gooseberry
jelly was all I could give them. I cooked plenty for the people here,
and two days before Christmas I had a chance to go down to Mrs.
Louderer's in a buggy, so we went. We found her up to her ears in
cooking, and such sights and smells I could never describe. She was so
glad I came early, for she needed help. I never worked so hard in my
life or had a pleasanter time.

Mrs. Louderer had sent a man out several days before to find out how
many camps there were and where they were located. There were twelve
camps and that means twenty-four men. We roasted six geese, boiled
three small hams and three hens. We had besides several meat-loaves and
links of sausage. We had twelve large loaves of the _best_ rye bread; a
small tub of doughnuts; twelve coffee-cakes, more to be called
fruit-cakes, and also a quantity of little cakes with seeds, nuts, and
fruit in them,--so pretty to look at and _so_ good to taste. These had
a thick coat of icing, some brown, some pink, some white. I had
thirteen pounds of butter and six pint jars of jelly, so we melted the
jelly and poured it into twelve glasses.

The plan was, to start real early Christmas Eve morning, make our
circuit of camps, and wind up the day at Frau O'Shaughnessy's to spend
the night. Yes, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy is Irish,--as Irish as the pigs in
Dublin. Before it was day the man came to feed and to get our horses
ready. We were up betimes and had breakfast. The last speck was wiped
from the shining stove, the kitchen floor was scrubbed, and the last
small thing put in order. The man had four horses harnessed and hitched
to the sled, on which was placed a wagon-box filled with straw, hot
rocks, and blankets. Our twelve apostles--that is what we called our
twelve boxes--were lifted in and tied firmly into place. Then we
clambered in and away we went. Mrs. Louderer drove, and Tam O'Shanter
and Paul Revere were snails compared to us. We didn't follow any road
either, but went sweeping along across country. No one else in the
world could have done it unless they were drunk. We went careening
along hill-sides without even slacking the trot. Occasionally we struck
a particularly stubborn bunch of sagebrush and even the sled-runners
would jump up into the air. We didn't stop to light, but hit the earth
several feet in advance of where we left it. Luck was with us, though.
I hardly expected to get through with my head unbroken, but not even a
glass was cracked.

It would have done your heart good to see the sheep-men. They were all
delighted, and when you consider that they live solely on canned corn
and tomatoes, beans, salt pork, and coffee, you can fancy what they
thought of their treat. They have mutton when it is fit to eat, but
that is certainly not in winter. One man at each camp does the cooking
and the other herds. It doesn't make any difference if the cook never
cooked before, and most of them never did. At one camp, where we
stopped for dinner, they had a most interesting collection of fossils.
After delivering our last "apostle," we turned our faces toward Frau
O'Shaughnessy's, and got there just in time for supper.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy is a widow, too, and has quite an interesting story.
She is a dumpy little woman whose small nose seems to be smelling the
stars, it is so tip-tilted. She has the merriest blue eyes and the
quickest wit. It is really worth a severe bumping just to be welcomed
by her. It was so warm and cozy in her low little cabin. She had her
table set for supper, but she laid plates for us and put before us a
beautifully roasted chicken. Thrifty Mrs. Louderer thought it should
have been saved until next day, so she said to Frau O'Shaughnessy, "We
hate to eat your hen, best you save her till tomorrow." But Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy answered, "Oh, 't is no mather, 't is an ould hin she was
annyway." So we enjoyed the "ould hin," which was brown, juicy, and
tender.

When we had finished supper and were drinking our "tay," Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy told our fortunes with the tea-leaves. She told mine
first and said I would die an old maid. I said it was rather late for
that, but she cheerfully replied, "Oh, well, better late than niver."
She predicted for Mrs. Louderer that she should shortly catch a beau.
"'T is the next man you see that will come coortin' you." Before we
left the table some one knocked and a young man, a sheep-herder,
entered. He belonged to a camp a few miles away and is out from Boston
in search of health. He had been into town and his horse was lamed so
he could not make it into camp, and he wanted to stay overnight. He was
a stranger to us all, but Mrs. O'Shaughnessy made him at home and fixed
such a tempting supper for him that I am sure he was glad of the chance
to stay. He was very decidedly English, and powerfully proud of it. He
asked Mrs. O'Shaughnessy if she was Irish and she said, "No, ye
haythen, it's Chinese Oi am. Can't yez tell it be me Cockney accint?"
Mr. Boutwell looked very much surprised. I don't know which was the
funnier, the way he looked or what she said.

We had a late breakfast Christmas morning, but before we were through
Mr. Stewart came. We had planned to spend the day with Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy, but he didn't approve of our going into the sheep
district, so when he found where we had gone he came after us. Mrs.
Louderer and he are old acquaintances and he bosses her around like he
tries to boss me. Before we left, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's married daughter
came, so we knew she would not be lonely.

It was almost one o'clock when we got home, but all hands helped and I
had plenty cooked anyway, so we soon had a good dinner on the table.
Mr. Stewart had prepared a Christmas box for Jerrine and me. He doesn't
approve of white waists in the winter. I had worn one at the wedding
and he felt personally aggrieved. For me in the box were two dresses,
that is, the material to make them. One is a brown and red checked, and
the other green with a white fleck in, both outing flannel. For Jerrine
there was a pair of shoes and stockings, both stockings full of candy
and nuts. He is very bluff in manner, but he is really the kindest
person.

Mrs. Louderer stayed until New Year's day. My Christmas was really a
very happy one.

  Your friend,
    ELINORE RUPERT.

... An interesting day on this ranch is the day the cattle are named.
If Mr. Stewart had children he would as soon think of leaving them
unnamed as to let a "beastie" go without a name.

On the day they vaccinated he came into the kitchen and told me he
would need me to help him name the "critters." So he and I "assembled"
in a safe place and took turns naming the calves. As fast as a calf was
vaccinated it was run out of the chute and he or I called out a name
for it and it was booked that way.

The first two he named were the "Duke of Monmouth" and the "Duke of
Montrose." I called my first "Oliver Cromwell" and "John Fox." The poor
"mon" had to have revenge, so the next ugly, scrawny little beast he
called the "Poop of Roome." And it was a heifer calf, too.

This morning I had the startling news that the "Poop" had eaten too
much alfalfa and was all "swellit oop," and, moreover, he had "stealit
it." I don't know which is the more astonishing, that the Pope has
stolen alfalfa, or that he has eaten it.

We have a swell lot of names, but I am not sure I could tell you which
is "Bloody Mary," or which is "Elizabeth," or, indeed, which is which
of any of them.

  E.R.



IX

A CONFESSION


     _April 5, 1910._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

I find upon re-reading your letter that I did not answer it at all when
I wrote you. You must think me very indifferent, but I really don't
mean to be.

My house joins on to Mr. Stewart's house. It was built that way so that
I could "hold down" my land and job at the same time. I see the wisdom
of it now, though at first I did not want it that way. My boundary
lines run within two feet of Mr. Stewart's house, so it was quite easy
to build on.

I think the Pattersons' ranch is about twenty-five miles from us. I am
glad to tell you they are doing splendidly. Gale is just as thrifty as
she can be and Bobby is steady and making money fast. Their baby is
the dearest little thing. I have heard that Sedalia is to marry a
Mormon bishop, but I doubt it. She puts on very disgusting airs about
"our Bobby," and she patronizes Gale most shamefully; but Gale, bless
her unconscious heart, is so happy in her husband and son that she
doesn't know Sedalia is insulting.

My dear old grandmother whom I loved so much has gone home to God. I
used to write long letters to her. I should like a few addresses of old
persons who are lonely as she was, who would like letters such as I
write. You know I can't be brief. I have tried and cannot. If you know
of any persons who would not tire of my long accounts and would care to
have them, you will be doing me a favor to let me know.

I have not treated you quite frankly about something you had a right to
know about. I am ashamed and I regret very much that I have not told
you. I so dread the possibility of losing your friendship that I will
_never_ tell you unless you promise me beforehand to forgive me. I
know that is unfair, but it is the only way I can see out of a
difficulty that my foolish reticence has led me into. Few people,
perhaps, consider me reticent, but in some cases I am afraid I am even
deceitful. Won't you make it easy to "'fess" so I may be happy again?

  Truly your friend,
    ELINORE RUPERT.


     _June 16, 1910._

MY DEAR FRIEND,--

Your card just to hand. I wrote you some time ago telling you I had a
confession to make and have had no letter since, so thought perhaps you
were scared I had done something too bad to forgive. I am suffering
just now from eye-strain and can't see to write long at a time, but I
reckon I had better confess and get it done with.

The thing I have done is to marry Mr. Stewart. It was such an
inconsistent thing to do that I was ashamed to tell you. And, too, I
was afraid you would think I didn't need your friendship and might
desert me. Another of my friends thinks that way.

I hope my eyes will be better soon and then I will write you a long
letter.

Your old friend with a new name,

  ELINORE STEWART.



X

THE STORY OF CORA BELLE


     _August 15, 1910._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

... Grandma Edmonson's birthday is the 30th of May, and Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy suggested that we give her a party. I had never seen
Grandma, but because of something that happened in her family years ago
which a few narrow-heads whom it didn't concern in the least cannot
forgive or forget, I had heard much of her. The family consists of
Grandma, Grandpa, and little Cora Belle, who is the sweetest little bud
that ever bloomed upon the twigs of folly.

The Edmonsons had only one child, a daughter, who was to have married a
man whom her parents objected to solely because he was a sheep-man,
while their sympathies were with the cattle-men, although they owned
only a small bunch. To gain their consent the young man closed out his
interest in sheep, at a loss, filed on a splendid piece of land near
them, and built a little home for the girl he loved. Before they could
get to town to be married Grandpa was stricken with rheumatism. Grandma
was already almost past going on with it, so they postponed the
marriage, and as that winter was particularly severe, the young man
took charge of the Edmonson stock and kept them from starving. As soon
as he was able he went for the license.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and a neighbor were hunting some cattle that had
wandered away and found the poor fellow shot in the back. He was not
yet dead and told them it was urgently necessary for them to hurry him
to the Edmonsons' and to get some one to perform the marriage ceremony
as quickly as possible, for he could not live long. They told him such
haste meant quicker death because he would bleed more; but he
insisted, so they got a wagon and hurried all they could. But they
could not outrun death. When he knew he could not live to reach home,
he asked them to witness all he said. Everything he possessed he left
to the girl he was to have married, and said he was the father of the
little child that was to come. He begged them to befriend the poor girl
he had to leave in such a condition, and to take the marriage license
as evidence that he had tried to do right. The wagon was stopped so the
jolting would not make death any harder, and there in the shadow of the
great twin buttes he died.

They took the body to the little home he had made, and Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy went to the Edmonsons' to do what she could there. Poor
Cora Jane didn't know how terrible a thing wounded pride is. She told
her parents her misdeeds. They couldn't see that they were in any way
to blame. They seemed to care nothing for her terrible sorrow nor for
her weakened condition. All they could think of was that the child
they had almost worshiped had disgraced them; so they told her to go.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy took her to the home that had been prepared for her,
where the poor body lay. Some way they got through those dark days, and
then began the waiting for the little one to come. Poor Cora Jane said
she would die then, and that she wanted to die, but she wanted the baby
to know it was loved,--she wanted to leave something that should speak
of that love when the child should come to understanding. So Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy said they would make all its little clothes with every
care, and they should tell of the love. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy is the
daintiest needleworker I have ever seen; she was taught by the nuns at
St. Catherine's in the "ould country." She was all patience with poor,
unskilled Cora Jane, and the little outfit that was finally finished
was dainty enough for a fairy. Little Cora Belle is so proud of it.

At last the time came and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy went after the parents.
Long before, they had repented and were only too glad to go. The poor
mother lived one day and night after the baby came. She laid the tiny
thing in her mother's arms and told them to call her Cora Belle. She
told them she gave them a pure little daughter in place of the sinful
one they had lost.

That was almost twelve years ago, and the Edmonsons have lived in the
new house all this time. The deed to the place was made out to Cora
Belle, and her grandfather is her guardian....

If you traveled due north from my home, after about nine hours' ride
you would come into an open space in the butte lands, and away between
two buttes you would see the glimmer of blue water. As you drew nearer
you would be able to see the fringe of willows around the lake, and
presently a low, red-roofed house with corrals and stables. You would
see long lines of "buck" fence, a flock of sheep near by, and cattle
scattered about feeding. This is Cora Belle's home. On the long, low
porch you would see two old folks rocking. The man is small, and has
rheumatism in his legs and feet so badly that he can barely hobble. The
old lady is large and fat, and is also afflicted with rheumatism, but
has it in her arms and shoulders. They are both cheerful and hopeful,
and you would get a cordial welcome....

When you saw Cora Belle you would see a stout, square-built little
figure with long flaxen braids, a pair of beautiful brown eyes and the
longest and whitest lashes you ever saw, a straight nose, a short upper
lip, a broad, full forehead,--the whole face, neither pretty nor ugly,
plentifully sown with the brownest freckles. She is very truly the head
of the family, doing all the housework and looking after the stock,
winter and summer, entirely by herself. Three years ago she took things
into her own hands, and since that time has managed altogether. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy, however, tells her what to do.

The sheep, forty in number, are the result of her individual efforts.
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy told her there was more money in raising lambs than
in raising chickens, so she quit the chickens as a business and went to
some of the big sheep-men and got permission to take the "dogie" lambs,
which they are glad to give away. She had plenty of cows, so she milked
cows and fed lambs all day long all last year. This year she has forty
head of nice sheep worth four dollars each, and she doesn't have to
feed them the year round as she would chickens, and the wolves are no
worse to kill sheep than they are to kill chickens. When shearing-time
came she went to a sheep-man and told him she would help cook for his
men one week if he would have her sheep sheared with his. She said her
work was worth three dollars, that is what one man would get a day
shearing, and he could easily shear her sheep in one day. That is how
she got her sheep sheared. The man had her wool hauled to town with
his, sold it for her, and it brought sixty dollars. She took her money
to Mrs. O'Shaughnessy. She wanted some supplies ordered before she went
home, because, as she gravely said, "the rheumatiz would get all the
money she had left when she got home,"--meaning that her grandparents
would spend what remained for medicine.

The poor old grandparents read all the time of wonderful cures that
different dopes accomplish, and they spend every nickel they can get
their hands on for nostrums. They try everything they read of, and have
to buy it by the case,--horrid patent stuff! They have rolls of
testimonials and believe every word, so they keep on trying and hoping.
When there is any money they each order whatever medicine they want to
try. If Mrs. Edmonson's doesn't seem to help her, Grandpa takes it and
she takes his,--that is their idea of economy. They would spend hours
telling you about their different remedies and would offer you spoonful
after spoonful of vile-looking liquid, and be mildly grieved when you
refused to take it. Grandma's hands are so bent and twisted that she
can't sew, so dear old Grandpa tries to do it.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy told me that she helped out when she could. Three
years ago she made them all a complete outfit, but the "rheumatiz" has
been getting all the spare money since then, so there has been nothing
to sew. A peddler sold them a piece of gingham which they made up for
Cora Belle. It was broad pink and white stripes, and they wanted some
style to "Cory's" clothes, so they cut a gored skirt. But they had no
pattern and made the gores by folding a width of the goods biasly and
cutting it that way. It was put together with no regard to matching the
stripes, and a bias seam came in the center behind, but they put no
stay in the seam and the result was the most outrageous affair
imaginable.

Well, we had a large room almost empty and Mr. Stewart liked the idea
of a party, so Mrs. Louderer, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, and myself planned
for the event. It was to be a sewing-bee, a few good neighbors invited,
and all to sew for Grandma.... So Mrs. O'Shaughnessy went to Grandma's
and got all the material she had to make up. I had saved some
sugar-bags and some flour-bags. I knew Cora Belle needed underwear, so
I made her some little petticoats of the larger bags and some drawers
of the smaller. I had a small piece of white lawn that I had no use
for, and of that I made a dear little sunbonnet with a narrow edging of
lace around, and also made a gingham bonnet for her. Two days before
the time, came Mrs. Louderer, laden with bundles, and Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy, also laden. We had all been thinking of Cora Belle. Mr.
Stewart had sent by mail for her a pair of sandals for everyday wear
and a nice pair of shoes, also some stockings. Mrs. Louderer brought
cloth for three dresses of heavy Dutch calico, and gingham for three
aprons. She made them herself and she sews so carefully. She had bought
patterns and the little dresses were stylishly made, as well as well
made. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy brought a piece of crossbar with a tiny
forget-me-not polka dot, and also had goods and embroidery for a suit
of underwear. My own poor efforts were already completed when the rest
came, so I was free to help them.

Late in the afternoon of the 29th a funny something showed up. Fancy a
squeaky, rickety old wagon without a vestige of paint. The tires had
come off and had been "set" at home; that is done by heating the tires
red-hot and having the rims of the wheels covered with several layers
of burlap, or other old rags, well wet; then the red-hot tire is put on
and water hurriedly poured on to shrink the iron and to keep the burlap
from blazing. Well, whoever had set Cora Belle's tires had forgotten to
cut away the surplus burlap, so all the ragtags were merrily waving in
the breeze.

Cora Belle's team would bring a smile to the soberest face alive. Sheba
is a tall, lanky old mare. Once she was bay in color, but the years
have added gray hair until now she is roan. Being so long-legged she
strides along at an amazing pace which her mate, Balaam, a little
donkey, finds it hard to keep up with. Balaam, like Sheba, is full of
years. Once his glossy brown coat was the pride of some Mexican's
heart, but time has added to his color also, and now he is blue. His
eyes are sunken and dim, his ears no longer stand up in true donkey
style, but droop dejectedly. He has to trot his best to keep up with
Sheba's slowest stride. About every three miles he balks, but little
Cora Belle doesn't call it balking, she says Balaam has stopped to
rest, and they sit and wait till he is ready to trot along again. That
is the kind of layout which drew up before our door that evening. Cora
Belle was driving and she wore her wonderful pink dress which hung
down in a peak behind, fully six inches longer than anywhere else. The
poor child had no shoes. The winter had tried the last pair to their
utmost endurance and the "rheumatiz" had long since got the last
dollar, so she came with her chubby little sunburned legs bare. Her
poor little scarred feet were clean, her toe-nails full of nicks almost
into the quick, broken against rocks when she had been herding her
sheep. In the back of the wagon, flat on the bottom, sat Grandma and
Grandpa, such bundles of coats and blankets I can't describe. After a
great deal of trouble we got them unloaded and into the house. Then
Mrs. Louderer entertained them while Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and I prepared
supper and got a bath ready for Cora Belle. We had a T-bone steak,
mashed potatoes, hominy, hot biscuits and butter, and stewed prunes.
Their long ride had made them hungry and I know they enjoyed their
meal.

After supper Cora Belle and I washed the dishes while Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy laid out the little clothes. Cora Belle's clothes were to
be a surprise. The postmistress here also keeps a small store and has
ribbon, and when she heard of our plans from Mr. Stewart she sent up a
couple of pairs of hair-ribbon for Cora Belle. Soon Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
called us, and Cora Belle and I went into the bedroom where she was. I
wish you could have seen that child! Poor little neglected thing, she
began to cry. She said, "They ain't for me, I know they ain't. Why, it
ain't my birthday, it's Granny's." Nevertheless, she had her arms full
of them and was clutching them so tightly with her work-worn little
hands that we couldn't get them. She sobbed so deeply that Grandma
heard her and became alarmed. She hobbled to the door and pounded with
her poor twisted hands, calling all the while, "Cory, Cory Belle, what
ails you?" She got so excited that I opened the door, but Cora Belle
told her to go away. She said, "They ain't for you, Granny, and they
ain't for me either." ...

People here observe Decoration Day faithfully, and Cora Belle had
brought half a wagon-load of iris, which grows wild here. Next morning
we were all up early, but Cora Belle's flowers had wilted and she had
to gather more, but we all hurried and helped. She said as she was
going to see her mother she wanted to wear her prettiest dress, so Gale
and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy helped her to get ready. The cemetery is only
about two miles away, so we were all down quite early. We were obliged
to hurry because others were coming to help sew. Cora Belle went at
once to the graves where her parents lie side by side, and began
talking to her mother just as though she saw her. "You didn't know me,
did you, Mother, with my pretty new things? But I am your little girl,
Mamma. I am your little Cora Belle." After she had talked and had
turned every way like a proud little bird, she went to work. And, oh,
how fast she worked! Both graves were first completely covered with
pine boughs. It looked like sod, so closely were the little twigs laid.
Next she broke the stems off the iris and scattered the blossoms over,
and the effect was very beautiful. Then we hurried home and everybody
got busy. The men took Grandpa off to another part of the ranch where
they were fanning oats to plant, and kept him all day. That was good
for him because then he could be with the men all day and he so seldom
has a chance to be with men. Several ladies came and they all made
themselves at home and worked like beavers, and we all had a fine
time....

Sedalia was present and almost caused a riot. She says she likes
unusual words because they lend distinction to conversation. Well, they
do--sometimes. There was another lady present whose children are very
gifted musically, but who have the bad name of taking what they want
without asking. The mother can neither read nor write, and she is very
sensitive about the bad name her children have. While we were all busy
some one made a remark about how smart these children were. Sedalia
thought that a good time to get in a big word, so she said, "Yes, I
have always said Lula was a progeny." Mrs. Hall didn't know what she
meant and thought that she was casting reflections on her child's
honesty, so with her face scarlet and her eyes blazing she said,
"Sedalia Lane, I won't allow you nor nobody else to say my child is a
progeny. You can take that back or I will slap you peaked." Sedalia
took it back in a hurry, so I guess little Lula Hall is not a progeny.

Every one left about four except Gale, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, Mrs.
Louderer, and the Edmonsons. They had farthest to go, so they stayed
over night again. We worked until ten o'clock that night over Grandma's
clothes, but everything was thoroughly finished. Every button was on,
every thread-end knotted and clipped, and some tired workers lay down
to rest, as did a very happy child and a very thankful old lady.

Every one got away by ten o'clock the next morning. The last I saw of
little Cora Belle was when they had reached the top of a long slope and
Balaam had "stopped to rest." The breeze from the south was playfully
fluttering the rags on the wheels. Presently I heard a long "hee-haw,
hee-haw," and I knew Balaam had rested and had started.

I have been a very busy woman since I began this letter to you several
days ago. A dear little child has joined the angels. I dressed him and
helped to make his casket. There is no minister in this whole country
and I could not bear the little broken lily-bud to be just carted away
and buried, so I arranged the funeral and conducted the services. I
know I am unworthy and in no way fitted for such a mission, but I did
my poor best, and if no one else is comforted, I am. I know the message
of God's love and care has been told once, anyway, to people who have
learned to believe more strongly in hell than in heaven.

Dear friend, I do hope that this New Year will bring you and yours
fuller joys than you have ever known. If I had all the good gifts in my
hands you should certainly be blessed.

  Your sincere friend,
    ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



XI

ZEBBIE'S STORY


     _September 1, 1910._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

It was just a few days after the birthday party and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
was with me again. We were down at the barn looking at some new pigs,
when we heard the big corral gates swing shut, so we hastened out to
see who it could be so late in the day.

It was Zebbie. He had come on the stage to Burnt Fork and the driver
had brought him on here.... There was so much to tell, and he whispered
he had something to tell me privately, but that he was too tired then;
so after supper I hustled him off to bed....

Next morning ... the men went off to their work and Zebbie and I were
left to tell secrets. When he was sure we were alone he took from his
trunk a long, flat box. Inside was the most wonderful shirt I have
ever seen; it looked like a cross between a nightshirt and a
shirt-waist. It was of homespun linen. The bosom was ruffled and
tucked, all done by hand,--such tiny stitches, such patience and skill.
Then he handed me an old daguerreotype. I unfastened the little golden
hook and inside was a face good to see and to remember. It was dim, yet
clear in outline, just as if she were looking out from the mellow
twilight of long ago. The sweet, elusive smile,--I couldn't tell where
it was, whether it was the mouth or the beautiful eyes that were
smiling. All that was visible of her dress was the Dutch collar, just
like what is being worn now. It was pinned with an ugly old brooch
which Zebbie said was a "breast-pin" he had given her. Under the glass
on the other side was a strand of faded hair and a slip of paper. The
writing on the paper was so faded it was scarcely readable, but it
said: "Pauline Gorley, age 22, 1860."

Next he showed me a note written by Pauline, simply worded, but it held
a world of meaning for Zebbie. It said, "I spun and wove this cloth at
Adeline's, enough for me a dress and you a shirt, which I made. It is
for the wedding, else to be buried in. Yours, Pauline." The shirt, the
picture, and the note had waited for him all these years in Mothie's
care. And now I will tell you the story.

Long, long ago some one did something to some one else and started a
feud. Unfortunately the Gorleys were on one side and the Parkers on the
other. That it all happened before either Zebbie or Pauline was born
made no difference. A Gorley must hate a Parker always, as also a
Parker must hate a Gorley. Pauline was the only girl, and she had a
regiment of big brothers who gloried in the warfare and wanted only the
slightest pretext to shoot a Parker. So they grew up, and Zebbie often
met Pauline at the quiltings and other gatherings at the homes of
non-partisans. He remembers her so perfectly and describes her so
plainly that I can picture her easily. She had brown eyes and hair. She
used to ride about on her sorrel palfrey with her "nigger" boy Cæsar on
behind to open and shut plantation gates. She wore a pink calico
sunbonnet, and Zebbie says "she was just like the pink hollyhocks that
grew by mother's window." Isn't that a sweet picture?

Her mother and father were both dead, and she and her brothers lived on
their plantation. Zebbie had never dared speak to her until one day he
had driven over with his mother and sisters to a dinner given on a
neighboring plantation. He was standing outside near the wall, when
some one dropped a spray of apple blossoms down upon him from an upper
window. He looked up and Pauline was leaning out smiling at him. After
that he made it a point to frequent places where he might expect her,
and things went so well that presently Cæsar was left at home lest he
should tell the brothers. She was a loyal little soul and would not
desert, although he urged her to, even promising to go away, "plumb
away, clean to Scott County if she would go." She told him that her
brothers would go even as far as that to kill him, so that they must
wait and hope. Finally Zebbie got tired of waiting, and one day he
boldly rode up to the Gorley home and formally asked for Pauline's
hand. The bullet he got for his presumption kept him from going to the
war with his father and brother when they marched away.

Some time later George Gorley was shot and killed from ambush, and
although Zebbie had not yet left his bed the Gorleys believed he did
it, and one night Pauline came through a heavy rainstorm, with only
Cæsar, to warn Zebbie and to beg him, for her sake, to get away as fast
as he could that night. She pleaded that she could not live if he were
killed and could never marry him if he killed her brothers, so she
persuaded him to go while they were all innocent.

Well, he did as she wished and they never saw each other again. He
never went home again until last Thanksgiving, and dear little Pauline
had been dead for years. She herself had taken her little gifts for
Zebbie to Mothie to keep for him. Some years later she died and was
buried in the dress she mentioned. It was woven at Adeline Carter's,
one of the bitterest enemies of the Gorleys, but the sacrifice of her
pride did her no good because she was long at rest before Zebbie knew.
He had been greatly grieved because no stone marked her grave, only a
tangle of rose-briers. So he bought a stone, and in the night before
Decoration Day he and two of Uncle Buck's grandsons went to the Gorley
burying-ground and raised it to the memory of sweet Pauline. Some of
the Gorleys still live there, so he came home at once, fearing if they
should find out who placed the stone above their sister they would take
vengeance on his poor, frail body.

After he had finished telling me his story, I felt just as I used to
when Grandmother opened the "big chist" to air her wedding clothes and
the dress each of her babies wore when baptized. It seemed almost like
smelling the lavender and rose-leaves, and it was with reverent fingers
that I folded the shirt, the work of love, yellow with age, and laid it
in the box....

Well, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy returned, and early one morning we started
with a wagon and a bulging mess-box for Zebbie's home. We were going a
new and longer route in order to take the wagon. Dandelions spread a
carpet of gold. Larkspur grew waist-high with its long spikes of blue.
The service-bushes and the wild cherries were a mass of white beauty.
Meadowlarks and robins and bluebirds twittered and sang from every
branch, it almost seemed. A sky of tenderest blue bent over us and
fleecy little clouds drifted lazily across.... Soon we came to the
pineries, where we traveled up deep gorges and cañons. The sun shot
arrows of gold through the pines down upon us and we gathered our arms
full of columbines. The little black squirrels barked and chattered
saucily as we passed along, and we were all children together. We
forgot all about feuds and partings, death and hard times. All we
remembered was that God is good and the world is wide and beautiful. We
plodded along all day. Next morning there was a blue haze that Zebbie
said meant there would be a high wind, so we hurried to reach his home
that evening.

The sun was hanging like a great red ball in the smoky haze when we
entered the long cañon in which is Zebbie's cabin. Already it was dusky
in the cañons below, but not a breath of air stirred. A more delighted
man than Zebbie I never saw when we finally drove up to his low,
comfortable cabin. Smoke was slowly rising from the chimney, and
Gavotte, the man in charge, rushed out and the hounds set up a joyful
barking. Gavotte is a Frenchman, and he was all smiles and
gesticulations as he said, "Welcome, welcome! To-day I am rejoice you
have come. Yesterday I am despair if you have come because I am scrub,
but to-day, behold, I am delight."

I have heard of clean people, but Gavotte is the cleanest man I ever
saw. The cabin floor was so white I hated to step upon it. The windows
shone, and at each there was a calico curtain, blue-and-white check,
unironed but newly washed. In one window was an old brown pitcher,
cracked and nicked, filled with thistles. I never thought them pretty
before, but the pearly pink and the silvery green were so pretty and
looked so clean that they had a new beauty. Above the fireplace was a
great black eagle which Gavotte had killed, the wings outspread and a
bunch of arrows in the claws. In one corner near the fire was a
washstand, and behind it hung the fishing-tackle. Above one door was a
gun-rack, on which lay the rifle and shotgun, and over the other door
was a pair of deer-antlers. In the center of the room stood the square
home-made table, every inch scrubbed. In the side room, which is the
bedroom, was a wide bunk made of pine plank that had also been
scrubbed, then filled with fresh, sweet pine boughs, and over them was
spread a piece of canvas that had once been a wagon sheet, but Gavotte
had washed it and boiled and pounded it until it was clean and sweet.
That served for a sheet.

Zebbie was beside himself with joy. The hounds sprang upon him and
expressed their joy unmistakably. He went at once to the corrals to see
the "critters," and every one of them was safely penned for the night.
"Old Sime," an old ram (goodness knows _how_ old!), promptly butted him
over, but he just beamed with pleasure. "Sime knows me, dinged if he
don't!" was his happy exclamation. We went into the cabin and left him
fondling the "critters."

Gavotte did himself proud getting supper. We had trout and the most
delicious biscuit. Each of us had a crisp, tender head of lettuce with
a spoonful of potato salad in the center. We had preserves made from
canned peaches, and the firmest yellow butter. Soon it was quite dark
and we had a tiny brass lamp which gave but a feeble light, but it was
quite cool so we had a blazing fire which made it light enough.

When supper was over, Zebbie called us out and asked us if we could
hear anything. We could hear the most peculiar, long-drawn, sighing
wail that steadily grew louder and nearer. I was really frightened, but
he said it was the forerunner of the windstorm that would soon strike
us. He said it was wind coming down Crag Cañon, and in just a few
minutes it struck us like a cold wave and rushed, sighing, on down the
cañon. We could hear it after it had passed us, and it was perfectly
still around the cabin. Soon we heard the deep roaring of the coming
storm, and Zebbie called the hounds in and secured the door. The sparks
began to fly up the chimney. Jerrine lay on a bearskin before the
fire, and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and I sat on the old blue "settle" at one
side. Gavotte lay on the other side of the fire on the floor, his hands
under his head. Zebbie got out his beloved old fiddle, tuned up, and
began playing. Outside the storm was raging, growing worse all the
time. Zebbie played and played. The worse the tumult, the harder the
storm, the harder he played. I remember I was holding my breath,
expecting the house to be blown away every moment, and Zebbie was
playing what he called "Bonaparte's Retreat." It all seemed to flash
before me--I could see those poor, suffering soldiers staggering along
in the snow, sacrifices to one man's unholy ambition. I verily believe
we were all bewitched. I shouldn't have been surprised to have seen
witches and gnomes come tumbling down the chimney or flying in at the
door, riding on the crest of the storm. I glanced at Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy. She sat with her chin in her hand, gazing with unseeing
eyes into the fire. Zebbie seemed possessed; he couldn't tire.

It seemed like hours had passed and the tumult had not diminished. I
felt like shrieking, but I gathered Jerrine up into my arms and carried
her in to bed. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy came with us. She touched my elbow
and said, "Child, don't look toward the window, the banshees are out
to-night." We knelt together beside the bed and said our beads; then,
without undressing save pulling off our shoes, we crawled under our
blankets and lay on the sweet, clean pine. We were both perfectly worn
out, but we could not sleep. There seemed to be hundreds of different
noises of the storm, for there are so many cañons, so many crooks and
turns, and the great forest too. The wind was shrieking, howling, and
roaring all at once. A deep boom announced the fall of some giant of
the forest. I finally dozed off even in that terrible din, but Zebbie
was not so frenzied as he had been. He was playing "Annie Laurie," and
that song has always been a favorite of mine. The storm began gradually
to die away and "Annie Laurie" sounded so beautiful. I was thinking of
Pauline and, I know, to Zebbie, Annie Laurie and Pauline Gorley are one
and the same.

I knew no more until I heard Zebbie call out, "Ho, you sleepy-heads,
it's day." Mrs. O'Shaughnessy turned over and said she was still
sleepy. My former visit had taught me what beauty the early morning
would spread before me, so I dressed hastily and went outdoors. Zebbie
called me to go for a little walk. The amber light of the new day was
chasing the violet and amethyst shadows down the cañons. It was all
more beautiful than I can tell you. On one side the cañon-walls were
almost straight up. It looked as if we might step off into a very world
of mountains. Soon Old Baldy wore a crown of gleaming gold. The sun was
up. We walked on and soon came to a brook. We were washing our faces
in its icy waters when we heard twigs breaking, so we stood perfectly
still. From out the undergrowth of birch and willows came a deer with
two fawns. They stopped to drink, and nibbled the bushes. But soon they
scented strangers, and, looking about with their beautiful, startled
eyes, they saw us and away they went like the wind. We saw many great
trees uptorn by the storm. High up on the cliffs Zebbie showed me where
the eagles built every year.... We turned homeward and sat down upon
the trunk of a fallen pine to rest and take another look at the
magnificent view. Zebbie was silent, but presently he threw a handful
of pebbles down the cañon wall. "I am not sorry Pauline is dead. I have
never shed a tear. I know you think that is odd, but I have never
wanted to mourn. I am glad that it is as it is. I am happy and at peace
because I know she is mine. The little breeze is Pauline's own voice;
she had a little caressing way just like the gentlest breeze when it
stirs your hair. There is something in everything that brings back
Pauline: the beauty of the morning, the song of a bird or the flash of
its wings. The flowers look like she did. So I have not lost her, she
is mine more than ever. I have always felt so, but was never quite sure
until I went back and saw where they laid her. I know people think I am
crazy, but I don't care for that. I shall not hate to die. When you get
to be as old as I am, child, everything will have a new meaning to
you."

At last we slowly walked back to the cabin, and at breakfast Zebbie
told of the damage the storm had done. He was so common-place that no
one ever would have guessed his strange fancy....

I shall never forget Zebbie as I last saw him. It was the morning we
started home. After we left the bench that Zebbie lives on, our road
wound down into a deeper cañon. Zebbie had followed us to where a turn
in the cañon should hide us from view. I looked back and saw him
standing on the cliffs, high above us, the early morning sun turning
his snowy hair to gold, the breeze-fingers of Pauline tossing the
scanty locks. I shall always remember him so, a living monument to a
dead past.

  ELINORE STEWART.



XII

A CONTENTED COUPLE


     _October 6, 1911._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

... I once "heared" Sedalia Lane telling some of her experiences, and
she said she "surreptitiously stole along." One day, when I thought the
coast was clear, I was surreptitiously examining the contents of the
tool-chest with a view toward securing to myself such hammers, saws,
and what else I might need in doing some carpentry work I had planned.
The tool-chest is kept in the granary; both it and the granary are
usually kept locked. Now the "gude mon" has an idea that a "wooman"
needs no tools, and the use and misuse of his tools have led to numbers
of inter-household wars. I was gloating over my opportunity, and also
making the best of it, when a medley of burring Scotch voices brought
me to a quick realization that discretion is the better part of valor.
So I went into seclusion behind a tall oat-bin. It seemed that two
neighbors whom I had never seen were preparing to go to town, and had
come to get some tools and to see if the Stewart would lend them each a
team. Now Mr. Stewart must be very righteous, because he certainly
regardeth his beast, although he doesn't always love his neighbor as
himself. He was willing, however, for friends Tam Campbell and Archie
McEttrick to use his teams, but he himself would take a lighter rig and
go along, so as to see that his horses were properly cared for, and to
help out in case of need.

They made their plans, set the day, and went their ways. As soon as I
could, I made myself scarce about the granary and very busy about the
house, and, like Josiah Allen, I was in a very "happyfied" state of
mind. There is nothing Mr. Stewart likes better than to catch me
unprepared for something. I had been wanting to go to town, and he had
said I might go with him next time he went, if I was ready when he was.
I knew I would not hear one word about the proposed trip, but that only
added to the fun. I had plenty of time to make all preparations; so the
day before they were to start found me with all in readiness. It was
quite early in the spring and the evenings were quite chilly. We had
just finished supper, when we heard a great rumbling, and I knew
neighbors Campbell and McEttrick had arrived on their way to town; so I
began to prepare supper for them. I hadn't expected a woman, and was
surprised when I saw the largest, most ungainly person I have ever met
come shambling toward me.

She was Aggie McEttrick. She is tall and raw-boned, she walks with her
toes turned out, she has a most peculiar lurching gait like a camel's.
She has skin the color of a new saddle, and the oddest straggly
straw-colored hair. She never wears corsets and never makes her waists
long enough, so there is always a streak of gray undershirt visible
about her waist. Her skirts are never long enough either, and she knits
her own stockings. Those inclined can always get a good glimpse of
blue-and-white striped hose. She said, "I guess you are the Missus."
And that was every word she said until I had supper on the table. The
men were busy with their teams, and she sat with her feet in my oven,
eyeing my every movement. I told her we had just had our supper, but
she waited until I had theirs ready before she announced that neither
she nor Archie ate hot biscuits or steak, that they didn't take tea for
supper, preferred coffee, and that neither of them could eat peaches or
honey. So all of my supper was ruled off except the butter and cream.
She went down to their wagons and brought up what she wanted, so Tam
Campbell was the only one who ate my honey and biscuit.

Tam is just a Scot with an amazingly close fist, and he is very
absent-minded. I had met Annie, his wife, and their six children. She
told me of his absent-mindedness. Her remedy for his trouble when it
came to household needs was to repeat the article two or three times in
the list. People out like we are buy a year's supply at a time. So a
list of needed things is made up and sent into town. Tam always managed
to forget a great many things.

Well, bedtime came. I offered to show them to their room, but Aggie
said, "We'll nae sleep in your bed. We'll jest bide in the kitchen." I
could not persuade her to change her mind. Tam slept at the barn in
order to see after the "beasties," should they need attention during
the night. As I was preparing for bed, Aggie thrust her head into my
room and announced that she would be up at three o'clock. I am not an
early bird, so I thought I would let Aggie get her own breakfast, and I
told her she would find everything in the pantry. As long as I was
awake I could hear Archie and Aggie talking, but I could not imagine
what about. I didn't know their habits so well as I came to later. Next
morning the rumbling of their wagons awakened me, but I turned over and
slept until after six.

There are always so many things to do before leaving that it was nine
o'clock before we got started. We had only gotten about two miles, when
Mr. Stewart remembered he had not locked the granary, so back we
trotted. We nooned only a few miles from home. We knew we could not
catch the wagons before camping-time unless we drove very hard, so Mr.
Stewart said we would go by the Edmonsons' and spend the night there. I
enjoy even the memory of that drive through the short spring
afternoon,--the warm red sand of the desert; the Wind River Mountains
wrapped in the blue veil of distance; the sparse gray-green sage, ugly
in itself, but making complete a beautiful picture; the occasional
glimpse we had of shy, beautiful wild creatures. So much happiness can
be crowded into so short a time. I was glad, though, when Cora Belle's
home became a part of our beautiful picture. It is situated among great
red buttes, and there is a blue lake back of the house. Around the lake
is a fringe of willows. Their house is a low, rambling affair, with a
long, low porch and a red clay roof. Before the house is a cotton-wood
tree, its gnarled, storm-twisted branches making it seem to have the
"rheumatiz." There is a hop-vine at one end of the porch. It had not
come out when we were there, but the dead vine clung hopelessly to its
supports.

Little Cora Belle just bubbled with delight, and her grandparents were
scarcely better than she. Spring house-cleaning was just finished, and
they have company so seldom that they made us feel that we were doing
them a favor by stopping. Poor old "Pa" hobbled out to help put the
team away, and when they came back, Cora Belle asked me out to help
prepare supper, so I left Mr. Stewart with "Granny" and "Pa" to listen
to their recitals and to taste their many medicines. Cora Belle is
really an excellent housekeeper. Her cooking would surprise many
people. Her bread was delicious, and I am sure I never tasted anything
better than the roasted leg of lamb she gave us for supper. I am
ashamed to tell you how much I ate of her carrot jam. From where I sat
I had a splendid view of the sunset across the lake. Speaking of things
singly, Wyoming has nothing beautiful to offer. Taken altogether, it is
grandly beautiful, and at sunrise and sunset the "heavens declare His
glory."

Cora Belle is so animated and so straightforward, so entirely clean in
all her thoughts and actions, that she commands love and respect at one
and the same time. After supper her grandfather asked her to sing and
play for us. Goodness only knows where they got the funny little old
organ that Cora Belle thinks so much of. It has spots all over it of
medicine that has been spilled at different times, and it has, as Cora
Belle said, lost its voice in spots; but that doesn't set back Cora
Belle at all, she plays away just as if it was all right. Some of the
keys keep up a mournful whining and groaning, entirely outside of the
tune. Cora Belle says they play themselves. After several "pieces" had
been endured, "Pa" said, "Play my piece, Cory Belle"; so we had "Bingen
on the Rhine" played and sung from A to izzard. Dear old "Pa," his
pain-twisted old face just beamed with pride. I doubt if heaven will
have for him any sweeter music than his "baby's" voice. Granny's
squeaky, trembly old voice trailed in after Cora Belle's, always a word
or two behind. "Tell my friends and companions when they meet and
_scrouge_ around"; that is the way they sang it, but no one would have
cared for that, if they had noticed with what happy eagerness the two
sang together. The grandparents would like to have sat up all night
singing and telling of things that happened in bygone days, but poor
tired little Cora Belle began to nod, so we retired. As we were
preparing for bed it suddenly occurred to Mr. Stewart that I had not
been surprised when going to town was mentioned, so he said, "Wooman,
how did it happen that you were ready when I was to gae to the toone?"
"Oh," I said, "I knew you were going." "Who tell it ye?" "A little
bird." "'T was some fool wooman, mayhap." I didn't feel it necessary to
enlighten him, and I think he is still wondering how I knew.

Next morning we were off early, but we didn't come up with the wagons
until almost camping-time. The great heavily-loaded wagons were
creaking along over the heavy sands. The McEttricks were behind,
Aggie's big frame swaying and lurching with every jolt of the wagon.
They never travel without their German socks. They are great thick
things to wear on the outside of their shoes. As we came up behind
them, we could see Aggie's big socks dangling and bobbing beside
Archie's from where they were tied on the back part of the wagon. We
could hear them talking and see them gesticulating. When we came
nearer, we found they were quarreling, and they kept at it as long as I
was awake that night. After the men had disposed of their loads, they
and Mr. Stewart were going out of town to where a new coal-mine was
being opened. I intended to go on the train to Rock Springs to do some
shopping. Aggie said she was going also. I suggested that we get a room
together, as we would have to wait several hours for the train, but she
was suspicious of my motives. She is greatly afraid of being "done," so
she told me to get my own room and pay for it. We got into town about
three o'clock in the afternoon, and the train left at midnight.

I had gone to my room, and Jerrine and myself were enjoying a good rest
after our fatiguing drive, when my door was thrown open and a very
angry Aggie strode in. They asked us fifty cents each for our rooms.
Aggie paid hers under protest and afterward got to wondering how long
she was entitled to its use. She had gone back to the clerk about it,
and he had told her for that night only. She argued that she should
have her room for a quarter, as she would only use it until midnight.
When that failed, she asked for her money back, but the clerk was out
of patience and refused her that. Aggie was angry all through. She
vowed she was being robbed. After she had berated me soundly for
submitting so tamely, she flounced back to her own room, declaring she
would get even with the robbers. I had to hurry like everything that
night to get myself and Jerrine ready for the train, so I could spare
no time for Aggie. She was not at the depot, and Jerrine and I had to
go on to Rock Springs without her. It is only a couple of hours from
Green River to Rock Springs, so I had a good nap and a late breakfast.
I did my shopping and was back at Green River at two that afternoon.
The first person I saw was Aggie. She sat in the depot, glowering at
everybody. She had a basket of eggs and a pail of butter, which she had
been trying to sell. She was waiting for the night train, the only one
she could get to Rock Springs. I asked her had she overslept. "No, I
didna," she replied. Then, she proceeded to tell me that, as she had
paid for a whole night's use of a room, she had stayed to get its use.
That it had made her plans miscarry didn't seem to count.

After all our business was attended to, we started for home. The wagons
were half a day ahead of us. When we came in sight, we could see Aggie
fanning the air with her long arms, and we knew they were quarreling. I
remarked that I could not understand how persons who hated each other
so could live together. Clyde told me I had much to learn, and said
that really he knew of no other couple who were actually so devoted. He
said to prove it I should ask Aggie into the buggy with me and he would
get in with Archie, and afterwards we would compare notes. He drove up
alongside of them, and Aggie seemed glad to make the exchange. As we
had the buggy, we drove ahead of the wagons. It seems that Archie and
Aggie are each jealous of the other. Archie is as ugly a little monkey
as it would be possible to imagine. She bemeaned him until at last I
asked her why she didn't leave him, and added that I would not stand
such crankiness for one moment. Then she poured out the vials of her
wrath upon my head, only I don't think they were vials but barrels.

About sundown we made it to where we intended to camp and found that
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy had established a sheep-camp there, and was out with
her herd herself, having only Manny, a Mexican boy she had brought up
herself, for a herder. She welcomed us cordially and began supper for
our entire bunch. Soon the wagons came, and all was confusion for a few
minutes getting the horses put away for the night. Aggie went to her
wagon as soon as it stopped and made secure her butter and eggs
against a possible raid by Mrs. O'Shaughnessy. Having asked too high a
price for them, she had failed to sell them and was taking them back.
After supper we were sitting around the fire, Tam going over his
account and lamenting that because of his absent-mindedness he had
bought a whole hundred pounds of sugar more than he had intended, Aggie
and Archie silent for once, pouting I suspect. Clyde smiled across the
camp-fire at me and said, "Gin ye had sic a lass as I hae, ye might
blither." "Gin ye had sic a mon as mine--" I began, but Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy said, "Gin ye had sic a mon as I hae." Then we all three
laughed, for we had each heard the same thing, and we knew the
McEttricks wouldn't fight each other. They suspected us of laughing at
them, for Archie said to Aggie, "Aggie, lass, is it sport they are
making of our love?" "'T is daft they be, Archie, lad; we'll nae mind
their blither." She arose and shambled across to Archie and hunkered
her big self down beside him. We went to bed and left them peaceable
for once.

I am really ashamed of the way I have treated you, but I know you will
forgive me. I am not strong yet, and my eyes are still bothering me,
but I hope to be all right soon now, and I promise you a better letter
next time. Jerrine is very proud of her necklace. I think they are so
nice for children. I can remember how proud I was of mine when I was a
child. Please give your brother our thanks, and tell him his little
gift made my little girl very happy.

I am afraid this letter will seem rather jumbled. I still want the
address of your friend in Salem or any other. I shall find time to
write, and I am not going to let my baby prevent me from having many
enjoyable outings. We call our boy Henry Clyde for his father. He is a
dear little thing, but he is a lusty yeller for baby's rights.

  With much love,
    JERRINE AND HER MAMMA.



XIII

PROVING UP


     _October 14, 1911._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

I think you must be expecting an answer to your letter by now, so I
will try to answer as many of your questions as I remember. Your letter
has been mislaid. We have been very much rushed all this week. We had
the thresher crew two days. I was busy cooking for them two days before
they came, and have been busy ever since cleaning up after them. Clyde
has taken the thresher on up the valley to thresh for the neighbors,
and all the men have gone along, so the children and I are alone. No, I
shall not lose my land, although it will be over two years before I can
get a deed to it. The five years in which I am required to "prove up"
will have passed by then. I couldn't have held my homestead if Clyde
had also been proving up, but he had accomplished that years ago and
has his deed, so I am allowed my homestead. Also I have not yet used my
desert right, so I am still entitled to one hundred and sixty acres
more. I shall file on that much some day when I have sufficient money
of my own earning. The law requires a cash payment of twenty-five cents
per acre at the filing, and one dollar more per acre when final proof
is made. I should not have married if Clyde had not promised I should
meet all my land difficulties unaided. I wanted the fun and the
experience. For that reason I want to earn every cent that goes into my
own land and improvements myself. Sometimes I almost have a brain-storm
wondering how I am going to do it, but I know I shall succeed; other
women have succeeded. I know of several who are now where they can
laugh at past trials. Do you know?--I am a firm believer in laughter. I
am real superstitious about it. I think if Bad Luck came along, he
would take to his heels if some one laughed right loudly.

I think Jerrine must be born for the law. She always threshes out
questions that arise, to her own satisfaction, if to no one else's. She
prayed for a long time for her brother; also she prayed for some
puppies. The puppies came, but we didn't let her know they were here
until they were able to walk. One morning she saw them following their
mother, so she danced for joy. When her little brother came she was
plainly disappointed. "Mamma," she said, "did God really make the
baby?" "Yes, dear." "Then He hasn't treated us fairly, and I should
like to know why. The puppies could walk when He finished them; the
calves can, too. The pigs can, and the colt, and even the chickens.
What is the use of giving us a half-finished baby? He has no hair, and
no teeth; he can't walk or talk, nor do anything else but squall and
sleep."

After many days she got the question settled. She began right where
she left off. "I know, Mamma, why God gave us such a half-finished
baby; so he could learn our ways, and no one else's, since he must live
with us, and so we could learn to love him. Every time I stand beside
his buggy he laughs and then I love him, but I don't love Stella nor
Marvin because they laugh. So that is why." Perhaps that is the reason.

Zebbie's kinsfolk have come and taken him back to Yell County. I should
not be surprised if he never returned. The Lanes and the Pattersons
leave shortly for Idaho, where "our Bobbie" has made some large
investments.

I hope to hear from you soon and that you are enjoying every minute.
With much love,

  Your friend,
    ELINORE STEWART.



XIV

THE NEW HOUSE


     _December 1, 1911._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

I feel just like visiting to-night, so I am going to "play like" you
have come. It is so good to have you to chat with. Please be seated in
this low rocker; it is a present to me from the Pattersons and I am
very proud of it. I am just back from the Patterson ranch, and they
have a dear little boy who came the 20th of November and they call him
Robert Lane.

I am sure this room must look familiar to you, for there is so much in
it that was once yours. I have two rooms, each fifteen by fifteen, but
this one on the south is my "really" room and in it are my treasures.
My house faces east and is built up against a side-hill, or should I
say hillside? Anyway, they had to excavate quite a lot. I had them
dump the dirt right before the house and terrace it smoothly. I have
sown my terrace to California poppies, and around my porch, which is
six feet wide and thirty long, I have planted wild cucumbers.

Every log in my house is as straight as a pine can grow. Each room has
a window and a door on the east side, and the south room has two
windows on the south with space between for my heater, which is one of
those with a grate front so I can see the fire burn. It is almost as
good as a fireplace. The logs are unhewed outside because I like the
rough finish, but inside the walls are perfectly square and smooth. The
cracks in the walls are snugly filled with "daubing" and then the walls
are covered with heavy gray building-paper, which makes the room very
warm, and I really like the appearance. I had two rolls of wall-paper
with a bold rose pattern. By being very careful I was able to cut out
enough of the roses, which are divided in their choice of color as to
whether they should be red, yellow, or pink, to make a border about
eighteen inches from the ceiling. They brighten up the wall and the
gray paper is fine to hang pictures upon. Those you have sent us make
our room very attractive. The woodwork is stained a walnut brown, oil
finish, and the floor is stained and oiled just like it. In the corners
by the stove and before the windows we take our comfort.

From some broken bamboo fishing-rods I made frames for two screens.
These I painted black with some paint that was left from the buggy, and
Gavotte fixed the screens so they will stay balanced, and put in
casters for me. I had a piece of blue curtain calico and with
brass-headed tacks I put it on the frame of Jerrine's screen, then I
mixed some paste and let her decorate it to suit herself on the side
that should be next her corner. She used the cards you sent her. Some
of the people have a suspiciously tottering appearance, perhaps not so
very artistic, but they all mean something to a little girl whose
small fingers worked patiently to attain satisfactory results. She has
a set of shelves on which her treasures of china are arranged. On the
floor is a rug made of two goatskins dyed black, a present from
Gavotte, who heard her admiring Zebbie's bearskin. She has a tiny red
rocking-chair which she has outgrown, but her rather dilapidated family
of dolls use it for an automobile. For a seat for herself she has a
small hassock that you gave me, and behind the blue screen is a world
apart.

My screen is made just like Jerrine's except that the cover is cream
material with sprays of wild roses over it. In my corner I have a cot
made up like a couch. One of my pillows is covered with some checked
gingham that "Dawsie" cross-stitched for me. I have a cabinet bookcase
made from an old walnut bedstead that was a relic of the Mountain
Meadow Massacre. Gavotte made it for me. In it I have my few books,
some odds and ends of china, all gifts, and a few fossil curios. For a
floor-covering I have a braided rug of blue and white, made from old
sheets and Jerrine's old dresses. In the center of my room is a square
table made of pine and stained brown. Over it is a table-cover that you
gave me. Against the wall near my bed is my "dresser." It is a box with
shelves and is covered with the same material as my screen. Above it I
have a mirror, but it makes ugly faces at me every time I look into it.
Upon the wall near by is a match-holder that you gave me. It is the
heads of two fisher-folk. The man has lost his nose, but the old lady
still thrusts out her tongue. The material on my screen and "dresser" I
bought for curtains, then decided to use some white crossbar I had. But
I wish I had not, for every time I look at them I think of poor little
Mary Ann Parker.

I am going to make you a cup of tea and wonder if you will see anything
familiar about the teapot. You should, I think, for it is another of
your many gifts to me. Now I feel that you have a fairly good idea of
what my house looks like, on the inside anyway. The magazines and
Jerrine's cards and Mother Goose book came long ago, and Jerrine and I
were both made happy. I wish I could do nice things for you, but all I
can do is to love you.

  Your sincere friend,
    ELINORE RUPERT.



XV

THE "STOCKING-LEG" DINNER


     _February, 1912._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

... This time I want to tell you about a "stocking-leg" dinner which I
attended not long ago. It doesn't sound very respectable, but it was
one of the happiest events I ever remember.

Mrs. Louderer was here visiting us, and one afternoon we were all in
the kitchen when Gavotte came skimming along on the first pair of
snowshoes I ever saw. We have had lots of snow this winter, and many of
the hollows and gullies are packed full. Gavotte had no difficulty in
coming, and he had come for the mail and to invite us to a feast of "ze
hose." I could not think what kind of a dinner it could be, and I did
not believe that Mr. Stewart would go, but after Gavotte had explained
how much easier it was now than at any other time because the
hard-packed snow made it possible to go with bobsleds, I knew he would
go. I can't say I really wanted to go, but Mrs. Louderer took it for
granted that it would be delightful, so she and Mr. Stewart did the
planning. Next morning Gavotte met Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and invited her.
Then, taking the mail, he went on ahead to blaze a trail we should
follow with the sleds. We were to start two days later. They planned we
could easily make the trip in a day, as, with the gulches filled with
snow, short cuts were possible, and we could travel at a good pace, as
we would have a strong team. To me it seemed dangerous, but
dinner-parties have not been so plenty that I could miss one. So, when
the day came on which we were to start, we were up betimes and had a
mess-box packed and Mr. Stewart had a big pile of rocks hot. We all
wore our warmest clothes, and the rest carried out hot rocks and
blankets while I put the kitchen in such order that the men left to
feed the stock would have no trouble in getting their meals. Mr.
Stewart carried out the mess-box, and presently we were off. We had a
wagon-box on bobsleds, and the box was filled with hay and hot rocks
with blankets on top and more to cover us. Mr. Stewart had two big bags
of grain in front, feed for the horses, and he sat on them.

It was a beautiful day and we jogged along merrily. We had lots of fun,
and as we went a new way, there was much that was new to Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy and myself, and it was all new to the rest. Gavotte had
told us where we should noon, and we reached the place shortly after
twelve. Mr. Stewart went to lift out the mess-box,--but he had
forgotten to put it in! Oh, dear! We were a disappointed lot. I don't
think I was ever so hungry, but there was nothing for it but to grin
and bear it. It did me some good, though, to remember how a man misses
his dinner. The horses had to be fed, so we walked about while they
were eating. We went up a cañon that had high cliffs on one side, and
came to a place where, high up on the rock wall, in great black
letters, was this legend: "Dick fell off of this here clift and died."
I should think there would be no question that any one who fell from
that place on to the boulders below _would_ die.

Soon we started again, and if not quite so jolly as we were before, at
least we looked forward to our supper with a keen relish and the horses
were urged faster than they otherwise would have been. The beautiful
snow is rather depressing, however, when there is snow everywhere. The
afternoon passed swiftly and the horses were becoming jaded. At four
o'clock it was almost dark. We had been going up a deep cañon and came
upon an appalling sight. There had been a snow-slide and the cañon was
half-filled with snow, rock, and broken trees. The whole way was
blocked, and what to do we didn't know, for the horses could hardly be
gotten along and we could not pass the snow-slide. We were twenty-five
miles from home, night was almost upon us, and we were almost starved.
But we were afraid to stay in that cañon lest more snow should slide
and bury us, so sadly we turned back to find as comfortable a place as
we could to spend the night. The prospects were very discouraging, and
I am afraid we were all near tears, when suddenly there came upon the
cold air a clear blast from a horn. Mrs. Louderer cried, "Ach, der
reveille!" Once I heard a lecturer tell of climbing the Matterhorn and
the calls we heard brought his story to mind. No music could have been
so beautiful. It soon became apparent that we were being signaled; so
we drove in the direction of the sound and found ourselves going up a
wide cañon. We had passed the mouth of it shortly before we had come to
the slide. Even the tired horses took new courage, and every few
moments a sweet, clear call put new heart into us. Soon we saw a light.
We had to drive very slowly and in places barely crept. The bugler
changed his notes and we knew he was wondering if we were coming, so
Mr. Stewart helloed. At once we had an answer, and after that we were
steadily guided by the horn. Many times we could not see the light, but
we drove in the right direction because we could hear the horn.

At last, when it was quite dark and the horses could go no farther, we
drew up before the fire that had been our beacon light. It was a
bonfire built out upon a point of rock at the end of the cañon. Back
from it among the pines was a 'dobe house. A dried-up mummy of a man
advanced from the fire to meet us, explaining that he had seen us
through his field-glasses and, knowing about the snow-slide, had
ventured to attract us to his poor place. Carlota Juanita was within,
prepared for the _señoras_, if they would but walk in. If they would!
More dead than alive, we scrambled out, cold-stiffened and hungry.
Carlota Juanita threw open the low, wide door and we stumbled into
comfort. She hastened to help us off with our wraps, piled more wood on
the open fire, and busied herself to make us welcome and comfortable.
Poor Carlota Juanita! Perhaps you think she was some slender,
limpid-eyed, olive-cheeked beauty. She was fat and forty, but not fair.
She had the biggest wad of hair that I ever saw, and her face was so
fat that her eyes looked beady. She wore an old heelless pair of
slippers or sandals that would hardly stay on, and at every step they
made the most exasperating sliding noise, but she was all kindness and
made us feel very welcome. The floor was of dirt, and they had the
largest fireplace I have ever seen, with the widest, cleanest hearth,
which was where they did their cooking. All their furniture was
home-made, and on a low bench near the door were three water-jars
which, I am sure, were handmade. Away back in a corner they had a small
altar, on which was a little statue of Mary and the Child. Before it,
suspended by a wire from the rafters, was a cow's horn in which a piece
of punk was burning, just as the incense is kept burning in churches.
Supper was already prepared and was simmering and smoking on the
hearth. As soon as the men came in, Carlota Juanita put it on the
table, which was bare of cloth. I can't say that I really like Mexican
bread, but they certainly know how to cook meat. They had a most
wonderful pot-roast with potatoes and corn dumplings that were
delicious. The roast had been slashed in places and small bits of
garlic, pepper, bacon, and, I think, parsley, inserted. After it and
the potatoes and the dumplings were done, Carlota had poured in a can
of tomatoes. You may not think that was good, but I can assure you it
was and that we did ample justice to it. After we had eaten until we
were hardly able to swallow, Carlota Juanita served a queer Mexican
pie. It was made of dried buffalo-berries, stewed and made very sweet.
A layer of batter had been poured into a deep baking-dish, then the
berries, and then more batter. Then it was baked and served hot with
plenty of hard sauce; and it was powerful good, too. She had very
peculiar coffee with goat's milk in it. I took mine without the milk,
but I couldn't make up my mind that I liked the coffee. We sat around
the fire drinking it, when Manuel Pedro Felipe told us it was some he
had brought from Mexico. I didn't know they raised it there, but he
told us many interesting things about it. He and Carlota Juanita both
spoke fairly good English. They had lived for many years in their
present home and had some sheep, a few goats, a cow or two, a few pigs,
and chickens and turkeys. They had a small patch of land that Carlota
Juanita tilled and on which was raised the squaw corn that hung in
bunches from the rafters. Down where we live we can't get sweet corn to
mature, but here, so much higher up, they have a sheltered little nook
where they are able to raise many things. Upon a long shelf above the
fire was an ugly old stone image, the bottom broken off and some
plaster applied to make it set level. The ugly thing they had brought
with them from some old ruined temple in Mexico. We were all so very
tired that soon Carlota Juanita brought out an armful of the thickest,
brightest rugs and spread them over the floor for us to sleep upon. The
men retired to a lean-to room, where they slept, but not before Manuel
Pedro Felipe and Carlota had knelt before their altar for their
devotions. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and myself and Jerrine, knowing the
rosary, surprised them by kneeling with them. It is good to meet with
kindred faith away off in the mountains. It seems there could not
possibly be a mistake when people so far away from creeds and doctrines
hold to the faith of their childhood and find the practice a pleasure
after so many years. The men bade us good-night, and we lost no time in
settling ourselves to rest. Luckily we had plenty of blankets.

Away in the night I was awakened by a noise that frightened me. All was
still, but instantly there flashed through my mind tales of murdered
travelers, and I was almost paralyzed with fear when again I heard that
stealthy, sliding noise, just like Carlota Juanita's old slippers. The
fire had burned down, but just then the moon came from behind a cloud
and shone through the window upon Carlota Juanita, who was asleep with
her mouth open. I could also see a pine bough which was scraping
against the wall outside, which was perhaps making the noise. I turned
over and saw the punk burning, which cast a dim light over the serene
face of the Blessed Virgin, so all fear vanished and I slept as long as
they would let me in the morning. After a breakfast of _tortillas_,
cheese, and rancid butter, and some more of the coffee, we started
again for the stocking-leg dinner. Carlota Juanita stood in the door,
waving to us as long as we could see her, and Manuel P.F. sat with Mr.
Stewart to guide us around the snow-slide. Under one arm he carried the
horn with which he had called us to him. It came from some long-horned
cow in Mexico, was beautifully polished, and had a fancy rim of silver.
I should like to own it, but I could not make it produce a sound. When
we were safe on our way our guide left us, and our spirits ran high
again. The horses were feeling good also, so it was a merry, laughing
party that drew up before Zebbie's two hours later.

Long before I had lent Gavotte a set of the Leather-Stocking Tales,
which he had read aloud to Zebbie. Together they had planned a
Leather-Stocking dinner, at which should be served as many of the
viands mentioned in the Tales as possible. We stayed two days and it
was one long feast. We had venison served in half a dozen different
ways. We had antelope; we had porcupine, or hedgehog, as Pathfinder
called it; and also we had beaver-tail, which he found toothsome, but
which I did _not_. We had grouse and sage hen. They broke the ice and
snared a lot of trout. In their cellar they had a barrel of trout
prepared exactly like mackerel, and they were more delicious than
mackerel because they were finer-grained. I had been a little
disappointed in Zebbie after his return from home. It seemed to me that
Pauline had spoiled him. I guess I was jealous. This time he was the
same little old Zebbie I had first seen. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy
our visit, and I am sure we each had the time of our lives. We made it
home without mishap the same day we started, all of us sure life held
something new and enjoyable after all.

If nothing happens there are some more good times in store for me this
summer. Gavotte once worked under Professor Marsden when he was out
here getting fossils for the Smithsonian Institution, and he is very
interesting to listen to. He has invited us to go with him out to the
Bad-Land hills in the summer to search for fossils. The hills are only
a few miles from here and I look forward to a splendid time.



XVI

THE HORSE-THIEVES


     [No date.]

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

... I am so afraid that you will get an overdose of culture from your
visit to the Hub and am sending you an antidote of our sage, sand, and
sunshine.

Mrs. Louderer had come over to see our boy. Together we had prepared
supper and were waiting for Clyde, who had gone to the post-office.
Soon he came, and after the usual friendly wrangling between him and
Mrs. Louderer we had supper. Then they began their inevitable game of
cribbage, while I sat near the fire with Baby on my lap. Clyde was
telling us of a raid on a ranch about seventy-five miles away, in which
the thieves had driven off thirty head of fine horses. There were only
two of the thieves, and the sheriff with a large posse was pursuing
them and forcing every man they came across into the chase, and a
regular man-hunt was on. It was interesting only because one of the
thieves was a noted outlaw then out on parole and known to be
desperate. We were in no way alarmed; the trouble was all in the next
county, and somehow that always seems so far away. We knew if the men
ever came together there would be a pitched battle, with bloodshed and
death, but there seemed little chance that the sheriff would ever
overtake the men.

I remember I was feeling sorry for the poor fellows with a price on
their heads,--the little pink man on my lap had softened my heart
wonderfully. Jerrine was enjoying the pictures in a paper illustrating
early days on the range, wild scenes of roping and branding. I had
remarked that I didn't believe there were any more such times, when Mrs
Louderer replied, "Dot yust shows how much it iss you do not know. You
shall come to mine house and when away you come it shall be wiser as
when you left." I had kept at home very closely all summer, and a
little trip seemed the most desirable thing I could think of,
particularly as the baby would be in no way endangered. But long ago I
learned that the quickest way to get what I want is not to want it,
outwardly, at least. So I assumed an indifference that was not very
real. The result was that next morning every one was in a hurry to get
me started,--Clyde greasing the little old wagon that looks like a twin
to Cora Belle's, and Mrs. Louderer, who thinks no baby can be properly
brought up without goose-grease, busy greasing the baby "so as he shall
not some cold take yet." Mrs. Louderer had ridden over, so her saddle
was laid in the wagon and her pony, Bismarck, was hitched in with Chub,
the laziest horse in all Wyoming. I knew Clyde could manage very well
while I should be gone, and there wasn't a worry to interfere with the
pleasure of my outing.

We jogged along right merrily, Mrs. Louderer devoting her entire
attention to trying to make Chub pull even with Bismarck, Jerrine and
myself enjoying the ever-changing views. I wish I could lay it all
before you. Summer was departing with reluctant feet, unafraid of
Winter's messengers, the chill winds. That day was especially
beautiful. The gleaming snow peaks and heavy forest south and at our
back; west, north, and east, long, broken lines of the distant
mountains with their blue haze. Pilot Butte to the north, one hundred
miles away, stood out clear and distinct as though we could drive there
in an hour or two. The dull, neutral-colored "Bad Land" hills nearer us
are interesting only because we know they are full of the fossil
remains of strange creatures long since extinct.

For a distance our way lay up Henry's Fork valley; prosperous little
ranches dotted the view, ripening grain rustled pleasantly in the warm
morning sunshine, and closely cut alfalfa fields made bright spots of
emerald against the dun landscape. The quaking aspens were just
beginning to turn yellow; everywhere purple asters were a blaze of
glory except where the rabbit-bush grew in clumps, waving its feathery
plumes of gold. Over it all the sky was so deeply blue, with little,
airy, white clouds drifting lazily along. Every breeze brought scents
of cedar, pine, and sage. At this point the road wound along the base
of cedar hills; some magpies were holding a noisy caucus among the
trees, a pair of bluebirds twittered excitedly upon a fence, and high
overhead a great black eagle soared. All was so peaceful that
horse-thieves and desperate men seemed too remote to think about.

Presently we crossed the creek and headed our course due north toward
the desert and the buttes. I saw that we were not going right to reach
Mrs. Louderer's ranch, so I asked where we were supposed to be going.
"We iss going to the mouth of Dry Creek by, where it goes Black's Fork
into. Dere mine punchers holdts five huntert steers. We shall de camp
visit and you shall come back wiser as when you went."

Well, we both came away wiser. I had thought we were going only to the
Louderer ranch, so I put up no lunch, and there was nothing for the
horses either. But it was too beautiful a time to let such things annoy
us. Anyway, we expected to reach camp just after noon, so a little
delay about dinner didn't seem so bad. We had entered the desert by
noon; the warm, red sands fell away from the wheels with soft, hissing
sounds. Occasionally a little horned toad sped panting along before us,
suddenly darting aside to watch with bright, cunning eyes as we passed.
Some one had placed a buffalo's skull beside a big bunch of sage and on
the sage a splendid pair of elk's antlers. We saw many such scattered
over the sands, grim reminders of a past forever gone.

About three o'clock we reached our destination, but no camp was there.
We were more disappointed than I can tell you, but Mrs. Louderer merely
went down to the river, a few yards away, and cut an armful of willow
sticks wherewith to coax Chub to a little brisker pace, and then we
took the trail of the departed mess-wagon. Shortly, we topped a low
range of hills, and beyond, in a cuplike valley, was the herd of sleek
beauties feeding contentedly on the lush green grass. I suppose it
sounds odd to hear desert and river in the same breath, but within a
few feet of the river the desert begins, where nothing grows but sage
and greasewood. In oasis-like spots will be found plenty of grass where
the soil is nearer the surface and where sub-irrigation keeps the roots
watered. In one of these spots the herd was being held. When the grass
became short they would be moved to another such place.

It required, altogether, fifteen men to take care of the herd, because
many of the cattle had been bought in different places, some in Utah,
and these were always trying to run away and work back toward home, so
they required constant herding. Soon we caught the glimmer of white
canvas, and knew it was the cover of the mess-wagon, so we headed that
way.

The camp was quite near the river so as to be handy to water and to
have the willows for wood. Not a soul was at camp. The fire was out,
and even the ashes had blown away. The mess-box was locked and Mrs.
Louderer's loud calls brought only echoes from the high rock walls
across the river. However, there was nothing to do but to make the best
of it, so we tethered the horses and went down to the river to relieve
ourselves of the dust that seemed determined to unite with the dust
that we were made of. Mrs. Louderer declared she was "so mat as nodings
and would fire dot Herman so soon as she could see him alreaty."

Presently we saw the most grotesque figure approaching camp. It was
Herman, the fat cook, on Hunks, a gaunt, ugly old horse, whose days of
usefulness under the saddle were past and who had degenerated into a
workhorse. The disgrace of it seemed to be driving him into a decline,
but he stumbled along bravely under his heavy load. A string of a dozen
sage chickens swung on one side, and across the saddle in front of
Herman lay a young antelope. A volley of German abuse was hurled at
poor Herman, wound up in as plain American as Mrs. Louderer could
speak: "And who iss going to pay de game warden de fine of dot antelope
what you haf shot? And how iss it that we haf come de camp by und so
starved as we iss hungry, and no cook und no food? Iss dat for why you
iss paid?"

Herman was some Dutch himself, however. "How iss it," he demanded, "dat
you haf not so much sense as you haf tongue? How haf you lived so long
as always in de West und don't know enough to hunt a bean-hole when you
reach your own camp. Hey?"

Mrs. Louderer was very properly subdued and I delighted when he removed
the stones from where the fire had been, exposing a pit from which,
with a pair of pot-hooks, he lifted pots and ovens of the most
delicious meat, beans, and potatoes. From the mess-box he brought bread
and apricot pie. From a near-by spring he brought us a bright, new pail
full of clear, sparkling water, but Mrs. Louderer insisted upon tea and
in a short time he had it ready for us. The tarpaulin was spread on the
ground for us to eat from, and soon we were showing an astonished cook
just how much food two women and a child could get away with. I ate a
good deal of ashes with my roast beef and we all ate more or less sand,
but fastidiousness about food is a good thing to get rid of when you
come West to camp.

When the regular supper-time arrived the punchers began to gather in,
and the "boss," who had been to town about some business, came in and
brought back the news of the man-hunt. The punchers sat about the
fire, eating hungrily from their tin plates and eagerly listening to
the recital. Two of the boys were tenderfeet: one from Tennessee called
"Daisy Belle," because he whistled that tune so much and because he had
nose-bleed so much,--couldn't even ride a broncho but his nose would
bleed for hours afterwards; and the other, "N'Yawk," so called from his
native State. N'Yawk was a great boaster; said he wasn't afraid of no
durned outlaw,--said his father had waded in bloody gore up to his neck
and that he was a chip off the old block,--rather hoped the chase would
come our way so he could try his marksmanship.

The air began to grow chill and the sky was becoming overcast.
Preparations for the night busied everybody. Fresh ponies were being
saddled for the night relief, the hard-ridden, tired ones that had been
used that day being turned loose to graze. Some poles were set up and a
tarpaulin arranged for Mrs. Louderer and me to sleep under. Mrs.
Louderer and Jerrine lay down on some blankets and I unrolled some
more, which I was glad to notice were clean, for Baby and myself. I
can't remember ever being more tired and sleepy, but I couldn't go to
sleep. I could hear the boss giving orders in quick, decisive tones. I
could hear the punchers discussing the raid, finally each of them
telling exploits of his favorite heroes of outlawry. I could hear
Herman, busy among his pots and pans. Then he mounted the tongue of the
mess-wagon and called out, "We haf for breakfast cackle-berries, first
vot iss come iss served, und those vot iss sleep late gets nodings."

I had never before heard of cackle-berries and asked sleepy Mrs.
Louderer what they were. "Vait until morning and you shall see," was
all the information that I received.

Soon a gentle, drizzling rain began, and the punchers hurriedly made
their beds, as they did so twitting N'Yawk about making his between
our tent and the fire. "You're dead right, pard," I heard one of them
say, "to make your bed there, fer if them outlaws comes this way
they'll think you air one of the women and they won't shoot you. Just
us _men_ air in danger."

"Confound your fool tongues, how they goin' to know there's any women
here? I tell you, fellers, my old man waded in bloody gore up to his
neck and I'm just like him."

They kept up this friendly parleying until I dozed off to sleep, but I
couldn't stay asleep. I don't think I was afraid, but I certainly was
nervous. The river was making a sad, moaning sound; the rain fell
gently, like tears. All nature seemed to be mourning about something,
happened or going to happen. Down by the river an owl hooted dismally.
Half a mile away the night-herders were riding round and round the
herd. One of them was singing,--faint but distinct came his song: "Bury
me not on the lone prairie." Over and over again he sang it. After a
short interval of silence he began again. This time it was, "I'm
thinking of my dear old mother, ten thousand miles away."

Two punchers stirred uneasily and began talking. "Blast that Tex," I
heard one of them say, "he certainly has it bad to-night. What the
deuce makes him sing so much? I feel like bawling like a kid; I wish
he'd shut up." "He's homesick; I guess we all are too, but they ain't
no use staying awake and letting it soak in. Shake the water off the
tarp, you air lettin' water catch on your side an' it's running into my
ear."

That is the last I heard for a long time. I must have slept. I remember
that the baby stirred and I spoke to him. It seemed to me that
something struck against the guy-rope that held our tarpaulin taut, but
I wasn't sure. I was in that dozy state, half asleep, when nothing is
quite clear. It seemed as though I had been listening to the tramp of
feet for hours and that a whole army must be filing past, when I was
brought suddenly into keen consciousness by a loud voice demanding,
"Hello! Whose outfit is this?" "This is the 7 Up,--Louderer's," the
boss called back; "what's wanted?" "Is that you, Mat? This is Ward's
posse. We been after Meeks and Murdock all night. It's so durned dark
we can't see, but we got to keep going; their horses are about played.
We changed at Hadley's, but we ain't had a bite to eat and we got to
search your camp." "Sure thing," the boss answered, "roll off and take
a look. Hi, there, you Herm, get out of there and fix these fellers
something to eat."

We were surrounded. I could hear the clanking of spurs and the sound of
the wet, tired horses shaking themselves and rattling the saddles on
every side. "Who's in the wickiup?" I heard the sheriff ask. "Some
women and kids,--Mrs. Louderer and a friend."

In an incredibly short time Herman had a fire coaxed into a blaze and
Mat Watson and the sheriff went from bed to bed with a lantern. They
searched the mess-wagon, even, although Herman had been sleeping there.
The sheriff unceremoniously flung out the wood and kindling the cook
had stored there. He threw back the flap of our tent and flashed the
lantern about. He could see plainly enough that there were but the four
of us, but I wondered how they saw outside where the rain made it
worse, the lantern was so dirty. "Yes," I heard the sheriff say, "we've
been pushing them hard. They're headed north, evidently intend to hit
the railroad but they'll never make it. Every ford on the river is
guarded except right along here, and there's five parties ranging on
the other side. My party's split,--a bunch has gone on to the bridge.
If they find anything they're to fire a volley. Same with us. I knew
they couldn't cross the river nowhere but at the bridge or here."

The men had gathered about the fire and were gulping hot coffee and
cold beef and bread. The rain ran off their slickers in little
rivulets. I was sorry the fire was not better, because some of the men
had on only ordinary coats, and the drizzling rain seemed determined
that the fire should not blaze high.

Before they had finished eating we heard a shot, followed by a regular
medley of dull booms. The men were in their saddles and gone in less
time than it takes to tell it. The firing had ceased save for a few
sharp reports from the revolvers, like a coyote's spiteful snapping.
The pounding of the horse's hoofs grew fainter, and soon all was still.
I kept my ears strained for the slightest sound. The cook and the boss,
the only men up, hurried back to bed. Watson had risen so hurriedly
that he had not been careful about his "tarp" and water had run into
his bed. But that wouldn't disconcert anybody but a tenderfoot. I kept
waiting in tense silence to hear them come back with dead or wounded,
but there was not a sound. The rain had stopped. Mrs. Louderer struck a
match and said it was three o'clock. Soon she was asleep. Through a
rift in the clouds a star peeped out. I could smell the wet sage and
the sand. A little breeze came by, bringing Tex's song once more:--

    "Oh, it matters not, so I've been told,
    How the body lies when the heart grows cold."

Oh, dear! the world seemed so full of sadness. I kissed my baby's
little downy head and went to sleep.

It seems that cowboys are rather sleepy-headed in the morning and it is
a part of the cook's job to get them up. The next I knew, Herman had a
tin pan on which he was beating a vigorous tattoo, all the time
hollering, "We haf cackle-berries und antelope steak for breakfast."
The baby was startled by the noise, so I attended to him and then
dressed myself for breakfast. I went down to the little spring to wash
my face. The morning was lowering and gray, but a wind had sprung up
and the clouds were parting. There are times when anticipation is a
great deal better than realization. Never having seen a cackle-berry,
my imagination pictured them as some very luscious wild fruit, and I
was so afraid none would be left that I couldn't wait until the men
should eat and be gone. So I surprised them by joining the very
earliest about the fire. Herman began serving breakfast. I held out my
tin plate and received some of the steak, an egg, and two delicious
biscuits. We had our coffee in big enameled cups, without sugar or
cream, but it was piping hot and _so_ good. I had finished my egg and
steak and so I told Herman I was ready for my cackle-berries.

"Listen to her now, will you?" he asked. And then indignantly, "How
many cackle-berries does you want? You haf had so many as I haf cooked
for you." "Why, Herman, I haven't had a single berry," I said. Then
such a roar of laughter. Herman gazed at me in astonishment, and Mr.
Watson gently explained to me that eggs and cackle-berries were one
and the same.

N'Yawk was not yet up, so Herman walked over to his bed, kicked him a
few times, and told him he would scald him if he didn't turn out. It
was quite light by then. N'Yawk joined us in a few minutes. "What the
deuce was you fellers kicking up such a rumpus fer last night?" he
asked. "You blamed blockhead, don't you know?" the boss answered. "Why,
the sheriff searched this camp last night. They had a battle down at
the bridge afterwards and either they are all killed or else no one is
hurt. They would have been here otherwise. Ward took a shot at them
once yesterday, but I guess he didn't hit; the men got away, anyway.
And durn your sleepy head! you just lay there and snored. Well, I'll be
danged!" Words failed him, his wonder and disgust were so great.

N'Yawk turned to get his breakfast. His light shirt was blood-stained
in the back,--seemed to be soaked. "What's the matter with your shirt,
it's soaked with blood?" some one asked. "Then that durned Daisy Belle
has been crawling in with me, that's all," he said. "Blame his bleeding
snoot. I'll punch it and give it something to bleed for."

Then Mr. Watson said, "Daisy ain't been in all night. He took Jesse's
place when he went to town after supper." That started an inquiry and
search which speedily showed that some one with a bleeding wound had
gotten in with N'Yawk. It also developed that Mr. Watson's splendid
horse and saddle were gone, the rope that the horse had been picketed
with lying just as it had been cut from his neck.

Now all was bustle and excitement. It was plainly evident that one of
the outlaws had lain hidden on N'Yawk's bed while the sheriff was
there, and that afterwards he had saddled the horse and made his
escape. His own horse was found in the willows, the saddle cut loose
and the bridle off, but the poor, jaded thing had never moved. By sunup
the search-party returned, all too worn-out with twenty-four hours in
the saddle to continue the hunt. They were even too worn-out to eat,
but flung themselves down for a few hours' rest. The chase was hopeless
anyway, for the search-party had gone north in the night. The wounded
outlaw had doubtless heard the sheriff talking and, the coast being
clear to the southward, had got the fresh horse and was by that time
probably safe in the heavy forests and mountains of Utah. His getting
in with N'Yawk had been a daring ruse, but a successful one. Where his
partner was, no one could guess. But by that time all the camp
excepting Herman and Mrs. Louderer were so panicky that we couldn't
have made a rational suggestion.

N'Yawk, white around his mouth, approached Mrs. Louderer. "I want to
quit," he said. "Well," she said, calmly sipping her coffee, "you haf
done it." "I'm sick," he stammered. "I know you iss," she said, "I haf
before now seen men get sick when they iss scared to death." "My old
daddy--" he began. "Yes, I know, he waded the creek vone time und you
has had cold feet effer since."

Poor fellow, I felt sorry for him. I had cold feet myself just then,
and I was powerfully anxious to warm them by my own fire where a pair
of calm blue eyes would reassure me.

I didn't get to see the branding that was to have taken place on the
range that day. The boss insisted on taking the trail of his valued
horse. He was very angry. He thought there was a traitor among the
posse. Who started the firing at the bridge no one knew, and Watson
said openly that it was done to get the sheriff away from camp.

My own home looked mighty good to me when we drove up that evening. I
don't want any more wild life on the range,--not for a while, anyway.

  Your ex-Washlady,
    ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



XVII

AT GAVOTTE'S CAMP


     _November 16, 1912._

MY DEAR FRIEND,--

At last I can write you as I want to. I am afraid you think I am going
to wait until the "bairns" are grown up before writing to my friends,
but indeed I shall not. I fully intend to "gather roses while I may."
Since God has given me two blessings, children and friends, I shall
enjoy them both as I go along.

I must tell you why I have not written as I should have done. All
summer long my eyes were so strained and painful that I had to let all
reading and writing go. And I have suffered terribly with my back. But
now I am able to be about again, do most of my own work, and my eyes
are much better. So now I shall not treat you so badly again. If you
could only know how kind every one is to me, you would know that even
ill health has its compensations out here. Dear Mrs. Louderer, with her
goose-grease, her bread, and her delicious "kuchens." Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy, with her cheery ways, her tireless friendship, and
willing, capable hands. Gavotte even, with his tidbits of game and
fish. Dear little Cora Belle came often to see me, sometimes bringing
me a little of Grandpa's latest cure, which I received on faith, for,
of course, I could not really swallow any of it. Zebbie's nephew,
Parker Carter, came out, spent the summer with him, and they have now
gone back to Yell County, leaving Gavotte in charge again.

Gavotte had a most interesting and prosperous summer. He was
commissioned by a wealthy Easterner to procure some fossils. I had had
such a confined summer that Clyde took me out to Gavotte's camp as soon
as I was able to sit up and be driven. We found him away over in the
bad lands camped in a fine little grove. He is a charming man to visit
at any time, and we found him in a particularly happy mood. He had just
begun to quarry a gigantic find; he had piles of specimens; he had
packed and shipped some rare specimens of fossil plants, but his "beeg
find" came later and he was jubilant. To dig fossils successfully
requires great care and knowledge, but it is a work in which Gavotte
excels. He is a splendid cook. I almost believe he could make a Johnny
Reb like codfish, and that night we had a delicious supper and all the
time listening to a learned discourse about prehistoric things. I
enjoyed the meal and I enjoyed the talk, but I could not sleep
peacefully for being chased in my dreams by pterodactyls, dinosaurs,
and iguanodons, besides a great many horrible creatures whose names I
have forgotten. Of course, when the ground begins to freeze and snow
comes, fossil-mining is done for until summer comes, so Gavotte tends
the critters and traps this winter. I shall not get to go to the
mountains this winter. The babies are too small, but there is always
some happy and interesting thing happening, and I shall have two
pleasures each time, my own enjoyment, and getting to tell you of
them.



XVIII

THE HOMESTEADER'S MARRIAGE AND A LITTLE FUNERAL


     _December 2, 1912._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

Every time I get a new letter from you I get a new inspiration, and I
am always glad to hear from you.

I have often wished I might tell you all about my Clyde, but have not
because of two things. One is I could not even begin without telling
you what a good man he is, and I didn't want you to think I could do
nothing but brag. The other reason is the haste I married in. I am
ashamed of that. I am afraid you will think me a Becky Sharp of a
person. But although I married in haste, I have no cause to repent.
That is very fortunate because I have never had one bit of leisure to
repent in. So I am lucky all around. The engagement was powerfully
short because both agreed that the trend of events and ranch work
seemed to require that we be married first and do our "sparking"
afterward. You see, we had to chink in the wedding between times, that
is, between planting the oats and other work that must be done early or
not at all. In Wyoming ranchers can scarcely take time even to be
married in the springtime. That having been settled, the license was
sent for by mail, and as soon as it came Mr. Stewart saddled Chub and
went down to the house of Mr. Pearson, the justice of the peace and a
friend of long standing. I had never met any of the family and
naturally rather dreaded to have them come, but Mr. Stewart was firm in
wanting to be married at home, so he told Mr. Pearson he wanted him and
his family to come up the following Wednesday and serve papers on the
"wooman i' the hoose." They were astonished, of course, but being such
good friends they promised him all the assistance they could render.
They are quite the dearest, most interesting family! I have since
learned to love them as my own.

Well, there was no time to make wedding clothes, so I had to "do up"
what I did have. Isn't it queer how sometimes, do what you can, work
will keep getting in the way until you can't get anything done? That is
how it was with me those few days before the wedding; so much so that
when Wednesday dawned everything was topsy-turvy and I had a very
strong desire to run away. But I always did hate a "piker," so I stood
pat. Well, I had most of the dinner cooked, but it kept me hustling to
get the house into anything like decent order before the old dog
barked, and I knew my moments of liberty were limited. It was blowing a
perfect hurricane and snowing like midwinter. I had bought a beautiful
pair of shoes to wear on that day, but my vanity had squeezed my feet a
little, so while I was so busy at work I had kept on a worn old pair,
intending to put on the new ones later; but when the Pearsons drove up
all I thought about was getting them into the house where there was
fire, so I forgot all about the old shoes and the apron I wore.

I had only been here six weeks then, and was a stranger. That is why I
had no one to help me and was so confused and hurried. As soon as the
newcomers were warm, Mr. Stewart told me I had better come over by him
and stand up. It was a large room I had to cross, and how I did it
before all those strange eyes I never knew. All I can remember very
distinctly is hearing Mr. Stewart saying, "I will," and myself chiming
in that I would, too. Happening to glance down, I saw that I had
forgotten to take off my apron or my old shoes, but just then Mr.
Pearson pronounced us man and wife, and as I had dinner to serve right
away I had no time to worry over my odd toilet. Anyway the shoes were
comfortable and the apron white, so I suppose it could have been
worse; and I don't think it has ever made any difference with the
Pearsons, for I number them all among my most esteemed friends.

It is customary here for newlyweds to give a dance and supper at the
hall, but as I was a stranger I preferred not to, and so it was a long
time before I became acquainted with all my neighbors. I had not
thought I should ever marry again. Jerrine was always such a dear
little pal, and I wanted to just knock about foot-loose and free to see
life as a gypsy sees it. I had planned to see the Cliff-Dwellers' home;
to live right there until I caught the spirit of the surroundings
enough to live over their lives in imagination anyway. I had planned to
see the old missions and to go to Alaska; to hunt in Canada. I even
dreamed of Honolulu. Life stretched out before me one long, happy
jaunt. I aimed to see all the world I could, but to travel unknown
bypaths to do it. But first I wanted to try homesteading.

But for my having the grippe, I should never have come to Wyoming. Mrs.
Seroise, who was a nurse at the institution for nurses in Denver while
I was housekeeper there, had worked one summer at Saratoga, Wyoming. It
was she who told me of the pine forests. I had never seen a pine until
I came to Colorado; so the idea of a home among the pines fascinated
me. At that time I was hoping to pass the Civil-Service examination,
with no very definite idea as to what I would do, but just to be
improving my time and opportunity. I never went to a public school a
day in my life. In my childhood days there was no such thing in the
Indian Territory part of Oklahoma where we lived, so I have had to try
hard to keep learning. Before the time came for the examination I was
so discouraged because of the grippe that nothing but the mountains,
the pines, and the clean, fresh air seemed worth while; so it all came
about just as I have written you.

So you see I was very deceitful. Do you remember, I wrote you of a
little baby boy dying? That was my own little Jamie, our first little
son. For a long time my heart was crushed. He was such a sweet,
beautiful boy. I wanted him so much. He died of erysipelas. I held him
in my arms till the last agony was over. Then I dressed the beautiful
little body for the grave. Clyde is a carpenter; so I wanted him to
make the little coffin. He did it every bit, and I lined and padded it,
trimmed and covered it. Not that we couldn't afford to buy one or that
our neighbors were not all that was kind and willing; but because it
was a sad pleasure to do everything for our little first-born
ourselves.

As there had been no physician to help, so there was no minister to
comfort, and I could not bear to let our baby leave the world without
leaving any message to a community that sadly needed it. His little
message to us had been love, so I selected a chapter from John and we
had a funeral service, at which all our neighbors for thirty miles
around were present. So you see, our union is sealed by love and
welded by a great sorrow.

Little Jamie was the first little Stewart. God has given me two more
precious little sons. The old sorrow is not so keen now. I can bear to
tell you about it, but I never could before. When you think of me, you
must think of me as one who is truly happy. It is true, I want a great
many things I haven't got, but I don't want them enough to be
discontented and not enjoy the many blessings that are mine. I have my
home among the blue mountains, my healthy, well-formed children, my
clean, honest husband, my kind, gentle milk cows, my garden which I
make myself. I have loads and loads of flowers which I tend myself.
There are lots of chickens, turkeys, and pigs which are my own special
care. I have some slow old gentle horses and an old wagon. I can load
up the kiddies and go where I please any time. I have the best, kindest
neighbors and I have my dear absent friends. Do you wonder I am so
happy? When I think of it all, I wonder how I can crowd all my joy into
one short life. I don't want you to think for one moment that you are
bothering me when I write you. It is a real pleasure to do so. You're
always so good to let me tell you everything. I am only afraid of
trying your patience too far. Even in this long letter I can't tell you
all I want to; so I shall write you again soon. Jerrine will write too.
Just now she has very sore fingers. She has been picking gooseberries,
and they have been pretty severe on her brown little paws.

With much love to you, I am

  "Honest and truly" yours,
    ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



XIX

THE ADVENTURE OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE


     _January 6, 1913._

MY DEAR FRIEND,--

I have put off writing you and thanking you for your thought for us
until now so that I could tell you of our very happy Christmas and our
deer hunt all at once.

To begin with, Mr. Stewart and Junior have gone to Boulder to spend the
winter. Clyde wanted his mother to have a chance to enjoy our boy, so,
as he had to go, he took Junior with him. Then those of my dear
neighbors nearest my heart decided to prevent a lonely Christmas for
me, so on December 21st came Mrs. Louderer, laden with an immense plum
pudding and a big "_wurst_," and a little later came Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
on her frisky pony, Chief, her scarlet sweater making a bright bit of
color against our snow-wrapped horizon. Her face and ways are just as
bright and cheery as can be. When she saw Mrs. Louderer's pudding and
sausage she said she had brought nothing because she had come to get
something to eat herself, "and," she continued, "it is a private
opinion of mine that my neighbors are so glad to see me that they are
glad to feed me." Now wouldn't that little speech have made her welcome
anywhere?

Well, we were hilariously planning what Mrs. O'Shaughnessy called a
"widdy" Christmas and getting supper, when a great stamping-off of snow
proclaimed a newcomer. It was Gavotte, and we were powerfully glad to
see him because the hired man was going to a dance and we knew Gavotte
would contrive some unusual amusement. He had heard that Clyde was
going to have a deer-drive, and didn't know that he had gone, so he had
come down to join the hunt just for the fun, and was very much
disappointed to find there was going to be no hunt. After supper,
however, his good humor returned and he told us story after story of
big hunts he had had in Canada. He worked up his own enthusiasm as well
as ours, and at last proposed that we have a drive of our own for a
Christmas "joy." He said he would take a station and do the shooting if
one of us would do the driving. So right now I reckon I had better tell
you how it is done.

There are many little parks in the mountains where the deer can feed,
although now most places are so deep in snow that they can't walk in
it. For that reason they have trails to water and to the different
feeding-grounds, and they can't get through the snow except along these
paths. You see how easy it would be for a man hidden on the trail to
get one of the beautiful creatures if some one coming from another
direction startled them so that they came along that particular path.

So they made their plans. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy elected herself driver.
Two miles away is a huge mountain called Phillipeco, and deer were
said to be plentiful up there. At one time there had been a sawmill on
the mountain, and there were a number of deserted cabins in which we
could make ourselves comfortable. So it was planned that we go up the
next morning, stay all night, have the hunt the following morning, and
then come home with our game.

Well, we were all astir early the next morning and soon grain, bedding,
and chuck-box were in the wagon. Then Mrs. Louderer, the _kinder_, and
myself piled in; Mrs. O'Shaughnessy bestrode Chief, Gavotte stalked on
ahead to pick our way, and we were off.

It was a long, tedious climb, and I wished over and over that I had
stayed at home; but it was altogether on Baby's account. I was so
afraid that he would suffer, but he kept warm as toast. The day was
beautiful, and the views many times repaid us for any hardship we had
suffered. It was three o'clock before we reached the old mill camp.
Soon we had a roaring fire, and Gavotte made the horses comfortable in
one of the cabins. They were bedded in soft, dry sawdust, and were
quite as well off as if they had been in their own stalls. Then some
rough planks were laid on blocks, and we had our first meal since
breakfast. We called it supper, and we had potatoes roasted in the
embers, Mrs. Louderer's _wurst_, which she had been calmly carrying
around on her arm like a hoop and which was delicious with the bread
that Gavotte toasted on long sticks; we had steaming coffee, and we
were all happy; even Baby clapped his hands and crowed at the unusual
sight of an open fire. After supper Gavotte took a little stroll and
returned with a couple of grouse for our breakfast. After dark we sat
around the fire eating peanuts and listening to Gavotte and Mrs.
Louderer telling stories of their different great forests. But soon
Gavotte took his big sleeping-bag and retired to another cabin, warning
us that we must be up early. Our improvised beds were the most
comfortable things; I love the flicker of an open fire, the smell of
the pines, the pure, sweet air, and I went to sleep thinking how blest
I was to be able to enjoy the things I love most.

It seemed only a short time until some one knocked on our door and we
were all wide awake in a minute. The fire had burned down and only a
soft, indistinct glow from the embers lighted the room, while through a
hole in the roof I could see a star glimmering frostily. It was Gavotte
at the door and he called through a crack saying he had been hearing
queer noises for an hour and he was going to investigate. He had called
us so that we need not be alarmed should we hear the noise and not find
him. We scrambled into our clothes quickly and ran outdoors to listen.

I can never describe to you the weird beauty of a moonlight night among
the pines when the snow is sparkling and gleaming, the deep silence
unbroken even by the snapping of a twig. We stood shivering and
straining our ears and were about to go back to bed when we heard
faintly a long-drawn wail as if all the suffering and sorrow on earth
were bound up in that one sound. We couldn't tell which way it came
from; it seemed to vibrate through the air and chill our hearts. I had
heard that panthers cried that way, but Gavotte said it was not a
panther. He said the engine and saws had been moved from where we were
to another spring across the cañon a mile away, where timber for sawing
was more plentiful, but he supposed every one had left the mill when
the water froze so they couldn't saw. He added that some one must have
remained and was, perhaps, in need of help, and if we were not afraid
he would leave us and go see what was wrong.

We went in, made up the fire, and sat in silence, wondering what we
should see or hear next. Once or twice that agonized cry came shivering
through the cold moonlight. After an age, we heard Gavotte crunching
through the snow, whistling cheerily to reassure us. He had crossed the
cañon to the new mill camp, where he had found two women, loggers'
wives, and some children. One of the women, he said, was "so ver'
seek," 't was she who was wailing so, and it was the kind of "seek"
where we could be of every help and comfort.

Mrs. Louderer stayed and took care of the children while Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy and I followed after Gavotte, panting and stumbling,
through the snow. Gavotte said he suspected they were short of
"needfuls," so he had filled his pockets with coffee and sugar, took in
a bottle some of the milk I brought for Baby, and his own flask of
whiskey, without which he never travels.

At last, after what seemed to me hours of scrambling through the snow,
through deepest gloom where pines were thickest, and out again into
patches of white moonlight, we reached the ugly clearing where the new
camp stood. Gavotte escorted us to the door and then returned to our
camp. Entering, we saw the poor, little soon-to-be mother huddled on
her poor bed, while an older woman stood near warning her that the oil
would soon be all gone and they would be in darkness. She told us that
the sick one had been in pain all the day before and much of the night,
and that she herself was worn completely out. So Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
sent her to bed and we took charge.

Secretly, I felt it all to be a big nuisance to be dragged out from my
warm, comfortable bed to traipse through the snow at that time of the
night. But the moment poor little Molly spoke I was glad I was living,
because she was a poor little Southern girl whose husband is a Mormon.
He had been sent on a mission to Alabama, and the poor girl had fallen
in love with his handsome face and knew nothing of Mormonism, so she
had run away with him. She thought it would be so grand to live in the
glorious West with so splendid a man as she believed her husband to
be. But now she believed she was going to die and she was glad of it
because she could not return to her "folks," and she said she knew her
husband was dead because he and the other woman's husband, both of whom
had intended to stay there all winter and cut logs, had gone two weeks
before to get their summer's wages and buy supplies. Neither man had
come back and there was not a horse or any other way to get out of the
mountains to hunt them, so they believed the men to be frozen somewhere
on the road. Rather a dismal prospect, wasn't it? Molly was just
longing for some little familiar thing, so I was glad I have not yet
gotten rid of my Southern way of talking. No Westerner can ever
understand a Southerner's need of sympathy, and, however kind their
hearts, they are unable to give it. Only a Southerner can understand
how dear are our peculiar words and phrases, and poor little Molly took
new courage when she found I knew what she meant when she said she was
just "honin'" after a friendly voice.

Well, soon we had the water hot and had filled some bottles and placed
them around our patient, and after a couple of hours the tiny little
stranger came into the world. It had been necessary to have a great
fire in order to have light, so as soon as we got Baby dressed I opened
the door a little to cool the room and Molly saw the morning star
twinkling merrily. "Oh," she said, "that is what I will call my little
girlie,--Star, dear little Star."

It is strange, isn't it? how our spirits will revive after some great
ordeal. Molly had been sure she was going to die and saw nothing to
live for; now that she had had a cup of hot milk and held her red
little baby close, she was just as happy and hopeful as if she had
never left her best friends and home to follow the uncertain fortunes
of young Will Crosby. So she and I talked of ash-hoppers, smoke-houses,
cotton-patches, goobers, poke-greens, and shoats, until she fell
asleep.

Soon day was abroad, and so we went outdoors for a fresh breath. The
other woman came out just then to ask after Molly. She invited us into
her cabin, and, oh, the little Mormons were everywhere; poor, half-clad
little things! Some sour-dough biscuit and a can of condensed milk was
everything they had to eat. The mother explained to us that their "men"
had gone to get things for them, but had not come back, so she guessed
they had got drunk and were likely in jail. She told it in a very
unconcerned manner. Poor thing! Years of such experience had taught her
that blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be
disappointed. She said that if Molly had not been sick she would have
walked down out of the mountains and got help.

Just then two shots rang out in quick succession, and soon Gavotte came
staggering along with a deer across his shoulders. That he left for
the family. From our camp he had brought some bacon and butter for
Molly, and, poor though it may seem, it was a treat for her. Leaving
the woman to dress the venison with her oldest boy's aid, we put out
across the cañon for our own breakfast. Beside our much-beaten trail
hung the second venison, and when we reached our camp and had our own
delicious breakfast of grouse, bread, butter, and coffee, Gavotte took
Chub and went for our venison. In a short time we were rolling
homeward. Of course it didn't take us nearly so long to get home
because it was downhill and the road was clearly marked, so in a couple
of hours we were home.

Gavotte knew the two loggers were in Green River and were then at work
storing ice for the railroad, but he had not known that their wives
were left as they were. The men actually had got drunk, lost their
money, and were then trying to replace it. After we debated a bit we
decided we could not enjoy Christmas with those people in want up
there in the cold. Then we got busy. It is sixty miles to town,
although our nearest point to the railroad is but forty, so you see it
was impossible to get to town to get anything. You should have seen us!
Every old garment that had ever been left by men who have worked here
was hauled out, and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's deft fingers soon had a pile
of garments cut. We kept the machine humming until far into the night,
as long as we could keep our eyes open.

All next day we sewed as hard as we could, and Gavotte cooked as hard
as he could. We had intended to have a tree for Jerrine, so we had a
box of candles and a box of Christmas snow. Gavotte asked for all the
bright paper we could find. We had lots of it, and I think you would be
surprised at the possibilities of a little waste paper. He made
gorgeous birds, butterflies, and flowers out of paper that once wrapped
parcels. Then he asked us for some silk thread, but I had none, so he
told us to comb our hair and give him the combings. We did, and with a
drop of mucilage he would fasten a hair to a bird's back and then hold
it up by the hair. At a few feet's distance it looked exactly as though
the bird was flying. I was glad I had a big stone jar full of
_fondant_, because we had a lot of fun shaping and coloring candies. We
offered a prize for the best representation of a "nigger," and we had
two dozen chocolate-covered things that might have been anything from a
monkey to a mouse. Mrs. Louderer cut up her big plum pudding and put it
into a dozen small bags. These Gavotte carefully covered with green
paper. Then we tore up the holly wreath that Aunt Mary sent me, and put
a sprig in the top of each green bag of pudding. I never had so much
fun in my life as I had preparing for that Christmas.

At ten o'clock, the morning of the 24th, we were again on our way up
the mountain-side. We took shovels so we could clear a road if need
be. We had dinner at the old camp, and then Gavotte hunted us a way out
to the new, and we smuggled our things into Molly's cabin so the
children should have a real surprise. Poor, hopeless little things!
Theirs was, indeed, a dull outlook.

Gavotte busied himself in preparing one of the empty cabins for us and
in making the horses comfortable. He cut some pine boughs to do that
with, and so they paid no attention when he cut a small tree. In the
mean time we had cleared everything from Molly's cabin but her bed; we
wanted her to see the fun. The children were sent to the spring to
water the horses and they were all allowed to ride, so that took them
out of the way while Gavotte nailed the tree into a box he had filled
with dirt to hold it steady.

There were four women of us, and Gavotte, so it was only the work of a
few moments to get the tree ready, and it was the most beautiful one I
ever saw. Your largest bell, dear Mrs. Coney, dangled from the topmost
branch. Gavotte had attached a long, stout wire to your Santa Claus, so
he was able to make him dance frantically without seeming to do so. The
hairs that held the birds and butterflies could not be seen, and the
effect was beautiful. We had a bucket of apples rubbed bright, and
these we fastened to the tree just as they grew on their own branches.
The puddings looked pretty, too, and we had done up the parcels that
held the clothes as attractively as we could. We saved the candy and
the peanuts to put in their little stockings.

As soon as it was dark we lighted the candles and then their mother
called the children. Oh, if you could have seen them! It was the very
first Christmas tree they had ever seen and they didn't know what to
do. The very first present Gavotte handed out was a pair of trousers
for eight-years-old Brig, but he just stood and stared at the tree
until his brother next in size, with an eye to the main chance, got
behind him and pushed him forward, all the time exclaiming, "Go on,
can't you! They ain't doin' nothin' to you, they's just doin' somethin'
for you." Still Brig would not put out his hand. He just shook his
tousled sandy head and said he wanted a bird. So the fun kept up for an
hour. Santa had for Molly a package of oatmeal, a pound of butter, a
Mason jar of cream, and a dozen eggs, so that she could have suitable
food to eat until something could be done.

After the presents had all been distributed we put the phonograph on a
box and had a dandy concert. We played "There were Shepherds," "Ave
Maria," and "Sweet Christmas Bells." Only we older people cared for
those, so then we had "Arrah Wanna," "Silver Bells," "Rainbow," "Red
Wing," and such songs. How delighted they were! Our concert lasted two
hours, and by that time the little fellows were so sleepy that the
excitement no longer affected them and they were put to bed, but they
hung up their stockings first, and even Molly hung hers up too. We
filled them with peanuts and candy, putting the lion's share of
"niggers" into Molly's stocking.

Next morning the happiness broke out in new spots. The children were
all clean and warm, though I am afraid I can't brag on the fit of all
the clothes. But the pride of the wearers did away with the necessity
of a fit. The mother was radiantly thankful for a warm petticoat; that
it was made of a blanket too small for a bed didn't bother her, and the
stripes were around the bottom anyway. Molly openly rejoiced in her new
gown, and that it was made of ugly gray outing flannel she didn't know
nor care. Baby Star Crosby looked perfectly sweet in her little new
clothes, and her little gown had blue sleeves and they thought a white
skirt only added to its beauty. And so it was about everything. We all
got so much out of so little. I will never again allow even the
smallest thing to go to waste. We were every one just as happy as we
could be, almost as delighted as Molly was over her "niggers," and
there was very little given that had not been thrown away or was not
just odds and ends.

There was never anything more true than that it is more blessed to give
than to receive. We certainly had a delicious dinner too, and we let
Molly have all she wanted that we dared allow her to eat. The roast
venison was so good that we were tempted to let her taste it, but we
thought better of that. As soon as dinner was over we packed our
belongings and betook ourselves homeward.

It was just dusk when we reached home. Away off on a bare hill a wolf
barked. A big owl hooted lonesomely among the pines, and soon a pack of
yelping coyotes went scampering across the frozen waste.

It was not the Christmas I had in mind when I sent the card, but it was
a _dandy_ one, just the same.

With best wishes for you for a happy, _happy_ New Year,

  Sincerely your friend,
    ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



XX

THE JOYS OF HOMESTEADING


     _January 23, 1913._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

I am afraid all my friends think I am very forgetful and that you think
I am ungrateful as well, but I am going to plead not guilty. Right
after Christmas Mr. Stewart came down with _la grippe_ and was so
miserable that it kept me busy trying to relieve him. Out here where we
can get no physician we have to dope ourselves, so that I had to be
housekeeper, nurse, doctor, and general overseer. That explains my long
silence.

And now I want to thank you for your kind thought in prolonging our
Christmas. The magazines were much appreciated. They relieved some
weary night-watches, and the box did Jerrine more good than the
medicine I was having to give her for _la grippe_. She was content to
stay in bed and enjoy the contents of her box.

When I read of the hard times among the Denver poor, I feel like urging
them every one to get out and file on land. I am very enthusiastic
about women homesteading. It really requires less strength and labor to
raise plenty to satisfy a large family than it does to go out to wash,
with the added satisfaction of knowing that their job will not be lost
to them if they care to keep it. Even if improving the place does go
slowly, it is that much done to stay done. Whatever is raised is the
homesteader's own, and there is no house-rent to pay. This year Jerrine
cut and dropped enough potatoes to raise a ton of fine potatoes. She
wanted to try, so we let her, and you will remember that she is but six
years old. We had a man to break the ground and cover the potatoes for
her and the man irrigated them once. That was all that was done until
digging time, when they were ploughed out and Jerrine picked them up.
Any woman strong enough to go out by the day could have done every bit
of the work and put in two or three times that much, and it would have
been so much more pleasant than to work so hard in the city and then be
on starvation rations in the winter.

To me, homesteading is the solution of all poverty's problems, but I
realize that temperament has much to do with success in any
undertaking, and persons afraid of coyotes and work and loneliness had
better let ranching alone. At the same time, any woman who can stand
her own company, can see the beauty of the sunset, loves growing
things, and is willing to put in as much time at careful labor as she
does over the washtub, will certainly succeed; will have independence,
plenty to eat all the time, and a home of her own in the end.

Experimenting need cost the homesteader no more than the work, because
by applying to the Department of Agriculture at Washington he can get
enough of any seed and as many kinds as he wants to make a thorough
trial, and it doesn't even cost postage. Also one can always get
bulletins from there and from the Experiment Station of one's own State
concerning any problem or as many problems as may come up. I would not,
for anything, allow Mr. Stewart to do anything toward improving my
place, for I want the fun and the experience myself. And I want to be
able to speak from experience when I tell others what they can do.
Theories are very beautiful, but facts are what must be had, and what I
intend to give some time.

Here I am boring you to death with things that cannot interest you!
You'd think I wanted you to homestead, wouldn't you? But I am only
thinking of the troops of tired, worried women, sometimes even cold and
hungry, scared to death of losing their places to work, who could have
plenty to eat, who could have good fires by gathering the wood, and
comfortable homes of their own, if they but had the courage and
determination to get them.

I must stop right now before you get so tired you will not answer. With
much love to you from Jerrine and myself, I am

  Yours affectionately,
    ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



XXI

A LETTER OF JERRINE'S


     _February 26, 1913._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

I think you will excuse my mama for not writing to thank you for black
Beauty when I tell you why. I wanted to thank you myself, and I wanted
to hear it read first so I could very trully thank. Mama always said
horses do not talk, but now she knows they do since she read the Dear
little book. I have known it along time. My own pony told me the story
is very true. Many times I have see men treat horses very badly, but
our Clyde dont, and wont let a workman stay if He hurts stock. I am
very glad.

Mr Edding came past one day with a load of hay. he had too much load to
pull up hill and there was much ice and snow but he think he can make
them go up so he fighted and sweared but they could not get up. Mama
tried to lend him some horse to help but he was angry and was termined
to make his own pull it but at last he had to take off some hay I wish
he may read my Black Beauty.

Our Clyde is still away. We were going to visit Stella. Mama was
driving, the horses raned away. We goed very fast as the wind. I almost
fall out Mama hanged on to the lines. if she let go we may all be kill.
At last she raned them into a fence. they stop and a man ran to help so
we are well but mama hands and arms are still so sore she cant write
you yet. My brother Calvin is very sweet. God had to give him to us
because he squealed so much he sturbed the angels. We are not angels so
he Dont sturb us. I thank you for my good little book. and I love you
for it too.

  very speakfully,
    JERRINE RUPERT.



XXII

THE EFFICIENT MRS. O'SHAUGHNESSY


     _May 5, 1913._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

Your letter of April 25 certainly was a surprise, but a very welcome
one. We are so rushed with spring work that we don't even go to the
office for the mail, and I owe you letters and thanks. I keep promising
myself the pleasure of writing you and keep putting it off until I can
have more leisure, but that time never gets here. I am so glad when I
can bring a little of this big, clean, beautiful outdoors into your
apartment for you to enjoy, and I can think of nothing that would give
me more happiness than to bring the West and its people to others who
could not otherwise enjoy them. If I could only take them from whatever
is worrying them and give them this bracing mountain air, glimpses of
the scenery, a smell of the pines and the sage,--if I could only make
them feel the free, ready sympathy and hospitality of these frontier
people, I am sure their worries would diminish and my happiness would
be complete.

Little Star Crosby is growing to be the sweetest little kid. Her mother
tells me that she is going "back yan" when she gets a "little mo'
richer." I am afraid you give me too much credit for being of help to
poor little Molly. It wasn't that I am so helpful, but that "fools rush
in where angels fear to tread." It was Mrs. O'Shaughnessy who was the
real help. She is a woman of great courage and decision and of splendid
sense and judgment. A few days ago a man she had working for her got
his finger-nail mashed off and neglected to care for it. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy examined it and found that gangrene had set in. She
didn't tell him, but made various preparations and then told him she
had heard that if there was danger of blood-poisoning it would show if
the finger was placed on wood and the patient looked toward the sun.
She said the person who looked at the finger could then see if there
was any poison. So the man placed his finger on the chopping-block and
before he could bat his eye she had chopped off the black, swollen
finger. It was so sudden and unexpected that there seemed to be no
pain. Then Mrs. O'Shaughnessy showed him the green streak already
starting up his arm. The man seemed dazed and she was afraid of shock,
so she gave him a dose of morphine and whiskey. Then with a quick
stroke of a razor she laid open the green streak and immersed the whole
arm in a strong solution of bichloride of mercury for twenty minutes.
She then dressed the wound with absorbent cotton saturated with olive
oil and carbolic acid, bundled her patient into a buggy, and drove
forty-five miles that night to get him to a doctor. The doctor told us
that only her quick action and knowledge of what to do saved the man's
life.

I was surprised that you have had a letter from Jerrine. I knew she was
writing to you that day, but I was feeling very stiff and sore from the
runaway and had lain down. She kept asking me how to spell words until
I told her I was too tired and wanted to sleep. While I was asleep the
man came for the mail, so she sent her letter. I have your address on
the back of the writing-pad, so she knew she had it right, but I
suspect that was all she had right. She has written you many letters
but I have never allowed her to send them because she misspells, but
that time she stole a march on me. The books you sent her, "Black
Beauty" and "Alice in Wonderland," have given her more pleasure than
anything she has ever had. She just loves them and is saving them, she
says, for her own little girls. She is very confident that the stork
will one day visit her and leave her a "very many" little girls. They
are to be of assorted sizes. She says she can't see why I order all my
babies little and red and squally,--says she thinks God had just as
soon let me have larger ones, especially as I get so many from him.

One day before long I will get busy and write you of a visit I shall
make to a Mormon bishop's household. Polygamy is still practiced.

  Very truly your friend,
    ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



XXIII

HOW IT HAPPENED


     _June 12, 1913._

Dear Mrs. Coney,--

Your letter of the 8th to hand, and in order to catch you before you
leave I'll answer at once and not wait for time. I always think I shall
do better with more time, but with three "bairns," garden, chickens,
cows, and housework I don't seem to find much time for anything. Now
for the first question. My maiden name was Pruitt, so when I am putting
on airs I sign Elinore Pruitt Stewart. I don't think I have ever
written anything that Clyde would object to, so he can still stay on
the pedestal Scotch custom puts him upon and remain "the Stewart."
Indeed, I don't think you are too inquisitive, and I am glad to tell
you how I happened to meet the "gude mon."

It all happened because I had a stitch in my side. When I was
housekeeper at the Nursery, I also had to attend to the furnace, and,
strange but true, the furnace was built across the large basement from
where the coal was thrown in, so I had to tote the coal over, and my
_modus operandi_ was to fill a tub with coal and then drag it across to
the hungry furnace. Well, one day I felt the catch and got no better
fast. After Dr. F---- punched and prodded, she said, "Why, you have the
grippe." Rev. Father Corrigan had been preparing me to take the
Civil-Service examination, and that afternoon a lesson was due, so I
went over to let him see how little I knew. I was in pain and was so
blue that I could hardly speak without weeping, so I told the Reverend
Father how tired I was of the rattle and bang, of the glare and the
soot, the smells and the hurry. I told him what I longed for was the
sweet, free open, and that I would like to homestead. That was Saturday
evening. He advised me to go straight uptown and put an "ad" in the
paper, so as to get it into the Sunday paper. I did so, and because I
wanted as much rest and quiet as possible I took Jerrine and went
uptown and got a nice quiet room.

On the following Wednesday I received a letter from Clyde, who was in
Boulder visiting his mother. He was leaving for Wyoming the following
Saturday and wanted an interview, if his proposition suited me. I was
so glad of his offer, but at the same time I couldn't know what kind of
person he was; so, to lessen any risk, I asked him to come to the
Sunshine Mission, where Miss Ryan was going to help me "size him up."
He didn't know that part of it, of course, but he stood inspection
admirably. I was under the impression he had a son, but he hadn't, and
he and his mother were the very last of their race. I am as proud and
happy to-day as I was the day I became his wife. I wish you knew him,
but I suspect I had better not brag too much, lest you think me not
quite sincere. He expected to visit you while he was in Boulder. He
went to the Stock Show, but was with a party, so he planned to go
again. But before he could, the man he left here, and whom I dismissed
for drunkenness, went to Boulder and told him I was alone, so the
foolish thing hurried home to keep me from too hard work. So that is
why he was disappointed.

Junior can talk quite well, and even Calvin jabbers. The children are
all well, and Jerrine writes a little every day to you. I have been
preparing a set of indoor outings for invalids. Your telling me your
invalid friends enjoyed the letters suggested the idea. I thought to
write of little outings I take might amuse them, but wanted to write
just as I took the little trips, while the impressions were fresh; that
is why I have not sent them before now. Is it too late? Shall I send
them to you? Now this is really not a letter; it is just a reply. I
must say good-night; it is twelve o'clock, and I am so sleepy.

I do hope you will have a very happy summer, and that you will share
your happiness with me in occasional letters.

  With much love,
    ELINORE STEWART.

In writing I forgot to say that the Reverend Father thought it a good
plan to get a position as housekeeper for some rancher who would advise
me about land and water rights. By keeping house, he pointed out, I
could have a home and a living and at the same time see what kind of a
homestead I could get.



XXIV

A LITTLE ROMANCE


     _October 8, 1913._

MY DEAR FRIEND,--

I have had such a happy little peep into another's romance that I think
I should be cheating you if I didn't tell you. Help in this country is
extremely hard to get; so when I received a letter from one Aurelia
Timmons, saying she wanted a job,--three dollars a week and _not_ to be
called "Relie,"--my joy could hardly be described. I could hardly wait
until morning to start for Bridger Bench, where Aurelia held forth. I
was up before the lark next morning. It is more miles to the Bridger
Bench country than the "gude mon" wants his horses driven in a day; so
permission was only given after I promised to curb my impatience and
stay overnight with Mrs. Louderer. Under ordinary circumstances that
would have been a pleasure, but I knew at least a dozen women who would
any of them seize on to Aurelia and wrest her from me, so it was only
after it seemed I would not get to go at all that I promised.

At length the wagon was greased, some oats put in, a substantial lunch
and the kiddies loaded in, and I started on my way. Perhaps it was the
prospect of getting help that gilded everything with a new beauty. The
great mountains were so majestic, and the day so young that I knew the
night wind was still murmuring among the pines far up on the
mountain-sides. The larks were trying to outdo each other and the
robins were so saucy that I could almost have flicked them with the
willow I was using as a whip. The rabbit-bush made golden patches
everywhere, while purple asters and great pink thistles lent their
charm. Going in that direction, our way lay between a mountain stream
and the foothills. There are many ranches along the stream, and as we
were out so early, we could see the blue smoke curling from each house
we passed. We knew that venison steak, hot biscuit, and odorous coffee
would soon grace their tables. We had not had the venison, for the
"gude mon" holds to the letter of the law which protects deer here, but
we begrudged no one anything; we were having exactly what we wanted. We
jogged along happily, if slowly, for I must explain to you that Chub is
quite the laziest horse in the State, and Bill, his partner, is so old
he stands like a bulldog. He is splay-footed and sway-backed, but he is
a beloved member of our family, so I vented my spite on Chub, and the
willow descended periodically across his black back, I guess as much
from force of habit as anything else. But his hide is thick and his
memory short, so we broke no record that day.

We drove on through the fresh beauty of the morning, and when the sun
was straight overhead we came to the last good water we could expect
before we reached Mrs. Louderer's; so we stopped for lunch. In Wyoming
quantity has a great deal more to do with satisfaction than does
quality; after half a day's drive you won't care so much what it is
you're going to eat as you will that there is enough of it. That is a
lesson I learned long ago; so our picnic was real. There were no ants
in the pie, but that is accounted for by there being no pie. Our road
had crossed the creek, and we were resting in the shade of a
quaking-asp grove, high up on the sides of the Bad Land hills. For
miles far below lay the valley through which we had come.

Farther on, the mountains with their dense forests were all wrapped in
the blue haze of the melancholy days. Soon we quitted our enchanted
grove whose quivering, golden leaves kept whispering secrets to us.

About three o'clock we came down out of the hills on to the bench on
which the Louderer ranch is situated. Perhaps I should explain that
this country is a series of huge terraces, each terrace called a
bench. I had just turned into the lane that leads to the house when a
horseman came cantering toward me. "Hello!" he saluted, as he drew up
beside the wagon. "Goin' up to the house? Better not. Mrs. Louderer is
not at home, and there's no one there but Greasy Pete. He's on a tear;
been drunk two days, I'm tellin' you. He's _full_ of mischief. 'T ain't
safe around old Greasy. I advise you to go some'eres else." "Well," I
asked, "where _can_ I go?" "Danged if I know," he replied, "'lessen it
's to Kate Higbee's. She lives about six or seven miles west. She ain't
been here long, but I guess you can't miss her place. Just jog along
due west till you get to Red Gulch ravine, then turn north for a couple
of miles. You'll see her cabin up against a cedar ridge. Well, so
'long!" He dug his spurs into his cayuse's side and rode on.

Tears of vexation so blinded me that I could scarcely see to turn the
team, but ominous sounds and wild yells kept coming from the house, so
I made what haste I could to get away from such an unpleasant
neighborhood. Soon my spirits began to rise. Kate Higbee, I reflected,
was likely to prove to be an interesting person. All Westerners are
likable, with the possible exception of Greasy Pete. I rather looked
forward to my visit. But my guide had failed to mention the buttes; so,
although I jogged as west as I knew how, I found I had to wind around a
butte about ever so often. I crossed a ravine with equal frequency, and
all looked alike. It is not surprising that soon I could not guess
where I was. We could turn back and retrace our tracks, but actual
danger lay there; so it seemed wiser to push on, as there was, perhaps,
no greater danger than discomfort ahead. The sun hung like a big red
ball ready to drop into the hazy distance when we came clear of the
buttes and down on to a broad plateau, on which grass grew plentifully.
That encouraged me because the horses need not suffer, and if I could
make the scanty remnant of our lunch do for the children's supper and
breakfast, we could camp in comfort, for we had blankets. But we must
find water. I stood up in the wagon and, shading my eyes against the
sun's level light, was looking out in the most promising directions
when I noticed that the plateau's farther side was bounded by a cedar
ridge, and, better yet, a smoke was slowly rising, column-like, against
the dun prospect. That, I reasoned, must be my destination. Even the
horses livened their paces, and in a little while we were there.

But no house greeted our eyes,--just a big camp-fire. A lean old man
sat on a log-end and surveyed us indifferently. On the ground lay a
large canvas-covered pack, apparently unopened. An old saddle lay up
against a cedar-trunk. Two old horses grazed near. I was powerfully
disappointed. You know misery loves company; so I ventured to say,
"Good-evening." He didn't stir, but he grunted, "Hello." I knew then
that he was not a fossil, and hope began to stir in my heart. Soon he
asked, "Are you goin' somewheres or jist travelin'?" I told him I had
started somewhere, but reckoned I must be traveling, as I had not
gotten there. Then he said, "My name is Hiram K. Hull. Whose woman are
you?" I confessed to belonging to the house of Stewart. "Which
Stewart?" he persisted,--"C.R., S.W., or H.C.?" Again I owned up
truthfully. "Well," he continued, "what does he mean by letting you gad
about in such onconsequential style?"

_Sometimes_ a woman gets too angry to talk. Don't you believe that? No?
Well, they do, I assure you, for I was then. He seemed grown to the
log. As he had made no move to help me, without answering him I
clambered out of the wagon and began to take the horses loose. "Ho!" he
said; "are you goin' to camp here?" "Yes, I am," I snapped. "Have you
any objections?" "Oh, no, none that won't keep," he assured me. It has
always been a theory of mine that when we become sorry for ourselves we
make our misfortunes harder to bear, because we lose courage and can't
think without bias; so I cast about me for something to be glad about,
and the comfort that at least we were safer with a simpleton than near
a drunken Mexican came to me; so I began to view the situation with a
little more tolerance.

After attending to the horses I began to make the children comfortable.
My unwilling host sat silently on his log, drawing long and hard at his
stubby old pipe. How very little there was left of our lunch! Just for
meanness I asked him to share with us, and, if you'll believe me, he
did. He gravely ate bread-rims and scraps of meat until there was not
one bit left for even the baby's breakfast. Then he drew the back of
his hand across his mouth and remarked, "I should think when you go off
on a ja'nt like this you'd have a well-filled mess-box." Again speech
failed me.

Among some dwarf willows not far away a spring bubbled. I took the
kiddies there to prepare them for rest. When I returned to the fire,
what a transformation! The pack was unrolled and blankets were spread,
the fire had been drawn aside, disclosing a bean-hole, out of which
Hiram K. was lifting an oven. He took off the lid. Two of the plumpest,
brownest ducks that ever tempted any one were fairly swimming in gravy.
Two loaves of what he called punk, with a box of crackers, lay on a
newspaper. He mimicked me exactly when he asked me to take supper with
him, and I tried hard to imitate him in promptitude when I accepted.
The babies had some of the crackers wet with hot water and a little of
the gravy. We soon had the rest looking scarce. The big white stars
were beginning to twinkle before we were through, but the camp-fire was
bright, and we all felt better-natured. Men are not alone in having a
way to their heart through their stomach.

I made our bed beneath the wagon, and Hiram K. fixed his canvas
around, so we should be sheltered. I felt so much better and thought so
much better of him that I could laugh and chat gayly. "Now, tell me,"
he asked, as he fastened the canvas to a wheel, "didn't you think I was
an old devil at first?" "Yes, I did," I answered. "Well," he said, "I
am; so you guessed right." After I put the children to bed, we sat by
the fire and talked awhile. I told him how I happened to be gadding
about in "such onconsequential" style, and he told me stories of when
the country was new and fit to live in. "Why," he said, in a burst of
enthusiasm, "time was once when you went to bed you were not sure
whether you'd get up alive and with your scalp on or not, the Injins
were that thick. And then there was white men a durned sight worse;
they were likely to plug you full of lead just to see you kick. But
now," he continued mournfully, "a bear or an antelope, maybe an elk, is
about all the excitement we can expect. Them good old days are gone."
I am mighty glad of it; a drunken Pete is bad enough for me.

I was tired, so soon I went to bed. I could hear him as he cut cedar
boughs for his own fireside bed, and as he rattled around among his
pots and pans. Did you ever eat pork and beans heated in a frying-pan
on a camp-fire for breakfast? Then if you have not, there is one
delight left you. But you must be away out in Wyoming, with the morning
sun just gilding the distant peaks, and your pork and beans must be out
of a can, heated in a disreputable old frying-pan, served with coffee
_boiled_ in a battered old pail and drunk from a tomato-can. You'll
_never_ want iced melons, powdered sugar, and fruit, or sixty-nine
varieties of breakfast food, if once you sit Trilby-wise on Wyoming
sand and eat the kind of breakfast we had that day.

After breakfast Hiram K. Hull hitched our horses to the wagon, got his
own horses ready, and then said, "'T ain't more 'n half a mile straight
out between them two hills to the stage-road, but I guess I had better
go and show you exactly, or you will be millin' around here all day,
tryin' to find it." In a very few minutes we were on the road, and our
odd host turned to go. "S'long!" he called. "Tell Stewart you seen old
Hikum. Him and me's shared tarps many's the nights. We used to be
punchers together,--old Clyde and me. Tell him old Hikum ain't forgot
him." So saying, he rode away into the golden morning, and we drove
onward, too.

We stopped for lunch only a few minutes that day, and we reached the
Bridger community about two that afternoon. The much sought Aurelia had
accepted the position of lifetime housekeeper for a sheep-herder who
had no house to keep, so I had to cast about for whatever comfort I
could. The roadhouse is presided over by a very able body of the clan
of Ferguson. I had never met her, but formalities count for very little
in the West. She was in her kitchen, having more trouble, she said,
than a hen whose ducklings were in swimming. I asked her if she could
accommodate the children and myself. "Yes," she said, "I can give you a
bed and grub, but I ain't got no time to ask you nothing. I ain't got
no time to inquire who you are nor where you come from. There's one
room left. You can have that, but you'll have to look out for yourself
and young 'uns." I felt equal to that; so I went out to have the horses
cared for and to unload the kiddies.

Leaning against the wagon was a man who made annual rounds of all the
homes in our community each summer; his sole object was to see what
kind of flowers we succeeded with. Every woman in our neighborhood
knows Bishey Bennet, but I don't think many would have recognized him
that afternoon. I had never seen him dressed in anything but blue denim
overalls and overshirt to match, but to-day he proudly displayed what
he said was his dove-colored suit. The style must have been one of
years ago, for I cannot remember seeing trousers quite so skimpy. He
wore top-boots, but as a concession to fashion he wore the boot-tops
under the trouser-legs, and as the trousers were about as narrow as a
sheath skirt, they kept slipping up and gave the appearance of being at
least six inches too short. Although Bishey is tall and thin, his coat
was two sizes too small, his shirt was of soft tan material, and he
wore a blue tie. But whatever may have been amiss with his costume was
easily forgotten when one saw his radiant face. He grasped my hand and
wrung it as if it was a chicken's neck.

"What in the world is the matter with you?" I asked, as I rubbed my
abused paw. "Just you come here and I'll tell you," he answered. There
was no one to hear but the kiddies, but I went around the corner of the
house with him. He put his hand up to his mouth and whispered that
"Miss Em'ly" was coming, would be there on the afternoon stage. I had
never heard of "Miss Em'ly," and said so. "Well, just you go in and
set on the sofy and soon's I see your horses took care of I'll come in
and tell you." I went into my own room, and after I rustled some water
I made myself and the kiddies a little more presentable. Then we went
into the sitting-room and sat on the "sofy." Presently Bishey sauntered
in, trying to look unconcerned and at ease, but he was so fidgety he
couldn't sit down. But he told his story, and a dear one it is.

It seems that back in New York State he and Miss Em'ly were "young uns"
together. When they were older they planned to marry, but neither
wanted to settle down to the humdrumness that they had always known.
Both dreamed of the golden West; so Bishey had gone to blaze the trail,
and "Miss Em'ly" was to follow. First one duty and then another had
held her, until twenty-five years had slipped by and they had not seen
each other, but now she was coming, that very day. They would be
married that evening, and I at once appointed myself matron of honor
and was plumb glad there was no other candidate.

I at once took the decorations in hand. Bishey, Jerrine, and myself
went out and gathered armfuls of asters and goldenrod-like
rabbit-brush. From the dump-pile we sorted cans and pails that would
hold water, and we made the sitting-room a perfect bower of purple and
gold beauty. I put on my last clean shirt-waist and the children's last
clean dresses. Then, as there seemed nothing more to do, Bishey
suggested that we walk up the road and meet the stage; but the day had
been warm, and I remembered my own appearance when I had come over that
same road the first time. I knew that journey was trying on any one's
appearance at any time of the year, and after twenty-five years to be
thrust into view covered with alkali dust and with one's hat on awry
would be too much for feminine patience; so I pointed out to Bishey
that he'd better clear out and let Miss Em'ly rest a bit before he
showed up. At last he reluctantly agreed.

I went out to the kitchen to find what could be expected in the way of
hot water for Miss Em'ly when she should come. I found I could have all
I wanted if I heated it myself. Mrs. Ferguson could not be bothered
about it, because a water company had met there to vote on new canals,
the sheep-men were holding a convention, there was a more than usual
run of transients besides the regular boarders, and supper was ordered
for the whole push. All the help she had was a girl she just knew
didn't have sense enough to pound sand into a rat-hole. Under those
circumstances I was mighty glad to help. I put water on to heat and
then forgot Miss Em'ly, I was enjoying helping so much, until I heard a
door slam and saw the stage drive away toward the barn.

I hastened to the room I knew was reserved for Miss Em'ly. I rapped on
the door, but it was only opened a tiny crack. I whispered through
that I was a neighbor-friend of Mr. Bennet's, that I had lots of hot
water for her and had come to help her if I might. Then she opened the
door, and I entered. I found a very travel-stained little woman, down
whose dust-covered cheeks tears had left their sign. Her prettiness was
the kind that wins at once and keeps you ever after. She was a strange
mixture of stiff reticence and childish trust. She was in _such_ a
flutter, and she said she was ashamed to own it, but she was so hungry
she could hardly wait.

After helping her all I could, I ran out to see about the wedding
supper that was to be served before the wedding. I found that no
special supper had been prepared. It seemed to me a shame to thrust
them down among the water company, the convention, the regulars, and
the transients, and I mentally invited myself to the wedding supper and
began to plan how we could have a little privacy. The carpenters were
at work on a long room off the kitchen that was to be used as
storeroom and pantry. They had gone for the day, and their saw-horses
and benches were still in the room. It was only the work of a moment to
sweep the sawdust away. There was only one window, but it was large and
in the west. It took a little time to wash that, but it paid to do it.
When a few asters and sprays of rabbit-brush were placed in a broken
jar on the window-sill, there was a picture worth seeing. Some planks
were laid on the saw-horses, some papers over them, and a clean white
cloth over all. I sorted the dishes myself; the prettiest the house
afforded graced our table. I rubbed the glassware until it shone almost
as bright as Bishey's smile.

Bishey had come when he could stay away no longer; he and Miss Em'ly
had had their first little talk, so they came out to where I was laying
the table. They were both beaming. Miss Em'ly took hold at once to
help. "Bishey," she commanded, "do you go at once to where my boxes
are open, the one marked 7; bring me a blue jar you'll find in one
corner." He went to do her bidding, and I to see about the kiddies.
When I came back with them, there was a small willow basket in the
center of our improvised table, heaped high with pears, apples, and
grapes all a little the worse for their long journey from New York
State to Wyoming, but still things of beauty and a joy as long as they
lasted to Wyoming eyes and appetites. We had a perfectly roasted leg of
lamb; we had mint sauce, a pyramid of flaky mashed potatoes, a big dish
of new peas, a plate of sponge-cake I will be long in forgetting; and
the blue jar was full of grape marmalade. Our iced tea was exactly
right; the pieces of ice clinked pleasantly against our glasses. We
took our time, and we were all happy. We could all see the beautiful
sunset, its last rays lingering on Miss Em'ly's abundant auburn hair to
make happy the bride the sun shines on. We saw the wonderful
colors--orange, rose, and violet--creep up and fade into darker shades,
until at last mellow dusk filled the room. Then I took the kiddies to
my room to be put to bed while I should wait until time for the
ceremony.

Soon the babies were sleeping, and Jerrine and I went into the
sitting-room. They were sitting on the "sofy." She was telling him that
the apples had come from the tree they had played under, the pears from
the tree they had set out, the grapes from the vine over the well. She
told him of things packed in her boxes, everything a part of the past
they both knew. He in turn told her of his struggles, his successes,
and some of what he called his failures. She was a most encouraging
little person, and she'd say to him, "You did well, Bishey. I'll say
_that_ for you: you did well!" Then he told her about the flowers he
had planted for her. I understood then why he acted so queerly about my
flowers. It happens that I am partial to old-time favorites, and I grow
as many of them as I can get to succeed in this altitude; so I have
zinnias, marigolds, hollyhocks, and many other dear old flowers that my
mother loved. Many of them had been the favorites of Miss Em'ly's
childhood, but Bishey hadn't remembered the names; so he had visited us
all, and when he found a flower he remembered, he asked the name and
how we grew it, then he tried it, until at last he had about all. Miss
Em'ly wiped the tears from her eyes as she remarked, "Bishey, you did
well; yes, you did _real_ well." I thought to myself how well we could
_all_ do if we were so encouraged.

At last the white-haired old justice of the peace came, and said the
words that made Emily Wheeler the wife of Abisha Bennet. A powerfully
noisy but truly friendly crowd wished them well. One polite fellow
asked her where she was from. She told him from New York _State_.
"Why," he asked, "do New Yorkers always say _State_?" "Why, because,"
she answered,--and her eyes were big with surprise,--"_no_ one would
want to say they were from New York _City_."

It had been a trying day for us, so soon Jerrine and I slipped out to
our room. Ours was the first room off the sitting-room, and a long
hallway led past our door; a bench sat against the wall, and it seemed
a favorite roosting-place for people with long discussions. First some
fellows were discussing the wedding. One thought Bishey "cracked"
because he had shipped out an old cooking-stove, one of the first
manufactured, all the way from where he came from, instead of buying a
new one nearer home. They recalled instance after instance in which he
had acted queerly, but to me his behavior was no longer a mystery. I
know the stove belonged somewhere in the past and that his every act
connected past and future. After they had talked themselves tired, two
old fellows took possession of the bench and added a long discussion on
how to grow corn to the general din. Even sweet corn cannot be
successfully grown at this altitude, yet those old men argued pro and
con till I know their throats must have ached. In the sitting-room they
all talked at once of ditches, water-contracts, and sheep. I was _so_
sleepy. I heard a tired clock away off somewhere strike two. Some
sheep-men had the bench and were discussing the relative values of
different dips. I reckon my ego must have gotten tangled with some
one's else about then, for I found myself sitting up in bed foolishly
saying,--

    "Two old herders, unshaved and hairy,
    Whose old tongues are _never_ weary,
    Just outside my chamber-door
    Prate of sheep dips for _ever_ more."

Next morning it was Bishey's cheerful voice that started my day. I had
hoped to be up in time to see them off, but I wasn't. I heard him call
out to Mrs. Bishey, "Miss Em'ly, I've got the boxes all loaded. We can
start _home_ in ten minutes." I heard her clear voice reply, "You've
done well, Bishey. I'll be ready by then." I was hurriedly dressing,
hoping yet to see her, when I heard Bishey call out to bluff old
Colonel Winters, who had arrived in the night and had not known of the
wedding, "Hello! Winters, have you met Miss Em'ly? Come over here and
meet her. I'm a married man now. I married Miss Em'ly last night." The
colonel couldn't have known how apt was his reply when he said, "I'm
glad for you, Bishey. You've done well." I peeked between the curtains,
and saw Bishey's wagon piled high with boxes, with Miss Em'ly,
self-possessed and happy, greeting the colonel. Soon I heard the rattle
of wheels, and the dear old happy pair were on their way to the cabin
home they had waited twenty-five years for. Bless the kind old hearts
of them! I'm sure they've both "done well."



XXV

AMONG THE MORMONS


     _November, 1913._

MY DEAR FRIEND,--

I have wanted to write you for a long time, but have been so busy. I
have had some visitors and have been on a visit; I think you would like
to hear about it all, so I will tell you.

I don't think you would have admired my appearance the morning this
adventure began: I was in the midst of fall house-cleaning which
included some papering. I am no expert at the very best, and papering a
wall has difficulties peculiar to itself. I was up on a barrel trying
to get a long, sloppy strip of paper to stick to the ceiling instead of
to me, when in my visitors trooped, and so surprised me that I stepped
off the barrel and into a candy-bucket of paste. At the same time the
paper came off the ceiling and fell over mine and Mrs. Louderer's
head. It was right aggravating, I can tell you, but my visitors were
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Mrs. Louderer, and no one could stay discouraged
with that pair around.

After we had scraped as much paste as we could off ourselves they
explained that they had come to take me somewhere. That sounded good to
me, but I could not see how I could get off. However, Mrs. Louderer
said she had come to keep house and to take care of the children while
I should go with Mrs. O'Shaughnessy to E----. We should have two days'
travel by sled and a few hours on a train, then another journey by
sled. I wanted to go powerfully, but the paste-smeared room seemed to
forbid.

As Mrs. Louderer would stay with the children, Mr. Stewart thought the
trip would be good for me. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy knew I wanted to visit
Bishop D----, a shining light among the Latter-Day Saints, so she
promised we should stay overnight at his house. That settled it; so in
the cold, blue light of the early morning, Mr. Beeler, a new neighbor,
had driven my friends over in Mrs. Louderer's big sled, to which was
hitched a pair of her great horses and his own team. He is a widower
and was going out to the road for supplies, so it seemed a splendid
time to make my long-planned visit to the Bishop. Deep snow came
earlier this year than usual, and the sledding and weather both
promised to be good. It was with many happy anticipations that I
snuggled down among the blankets and bearskins that morning.

Mr. Beeler is pleasant company, and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy is so jolly and
bright, and I could leave home without a single misgiving with Mrs.
Louderer in charge.

The evening sky was blazing crimson and gold, and the mountains behind
us were growing purple when we entered the little settlement where the
Bishop lives. We drove briskly through the scattered, straggling little
village, past the store and the meeting-house, and drew up before the
dwelling of the Bishop. The houses of the village were for the most
part small cabins of two or three rooms, but the Bishop's was more
pretentious. It was a frame building and boasted paint and shutters. A
tithing-office stood near, and back of the house we could see a large
granary and long stacks of hay. A bunch of cattle was destroying one
stack, and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy remarked that the tallow from those
cattle should be used when the olive oil gave out at their anointings,
because it was the Bishop's cattle eating consecrated hay.

We knocked on the door, but got no answer. Mr. Beeler went around to
the back, but no one answered, so we concluded we would have to try
elsewhere for shelter. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy comforted me by remarking,
"Well, there ain't a penny's worth of difference in a Mormon bishop and
any other Mormon, and D---- is not the only polygamist by a long shot."

We had just turned out of the gate when a lanky, tow-headed boy about
fourteen years of age rode up. We explained our presence there, and the
boy explained to us that the Bishop and Aunt Debbie were away. The next
best house up the road was his "Maw's," he said; so, as Mr. Beeler
expected to stay with a friend of his, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and I
determined to see if "Maw" could accommodate us for the night.

Mr. Beeler offered to help the boy get the cattle out, but he said,
"No, Paw said it would not matter if they got into the hay, but that he
had to knock off some poles on another part of the stockyard so that
some horses could get in to eat."

"But," I asked, "isn't that consecrated hay?--isn't it tithing?"

"Yes," he said, "but that won't hurt a bit, only that old John Ladd
always pays his tithe with foxtail hay and it almost ruins Paw's
horses' mouths."

I asked him if his father's stock was supposed to get the hay.

"No, I guess not," he said, "but they are always getting in accidental
like."

We left him to fix the fence so the horses could get in "accidental
like," and drove the short distance to "the next best house."

We were met at the door by a pleasant-faced little woman who hurried us
to the fire. We told her our plight. "Why, certainly you must stay with
me," she said. "I am glad the Bishop and Deb are away. They keep all
the company, and I so seldom have any one come; you see Debbie has no
children and can do so much better for any one stopping there than I
can, but I like company, too, and I am glad of a chance to keep you.
You two can have Maudie's bed. Maud is my oldest girl and she has gone
to Ogden to visit, so we have plenty of room."

By now it was quite dark. She lighted a lamp and bustled about,
preparing supper. We sat by the stove and, as Mrs. O'Shaughnessy said,
"noticed."

Two little boys were getting in wood for the night. They appeared to
be about eight years old; they were twins and were the youngest of the
family. Two girls, about ten and twelve years old, were assisting our
hostess; then the boy Orson, whom we met at the gate, and Maud, the
daughter who was away, made up the family. They seemed a happy,
contented family, if one judged by appearance alone. After supper the
children gathered around the table to prepare next day's lessons. They
were bright little folks, but they mingled a great deal of talk with
their studies and some of what they talked was family history.

"Mamma," said Kittie, the largest of the little girls, "if Aunt Deb
does buy a new coat and you get her old one, then can I have yours?"

"I don't know," her mother replied; "I should have to make it over if
you did take it. Maybe we can have a new one."

"No, we can't have a new one, I know, for Aunt Deb said so, but she is
going to give me her brown dress and you her gray one; she said so the
day I helped her iron. We'll have those to make over."

For the first time I noticed the discontented lines on our hostess's
face, and it suddenly occurred to me that we were in the house of the
Bishop's second wife. Before I knew I was coming on this journey I
thought of a dozen questions I wanted to ask the Bishop, but I could
never ask that care-worn little woman anything concerning their
peculiar belief. However, I was spared the trouble, for soon the
children retired and the conversation drifted around to Mormonism and
polygamy; and our hostess seemed to want to talk, so I just listened,
for Mrs. O'Shaughnessy rather likes to "argufy"; but she had no
argument that night, only her questions started our hostess's story.

She had been married to the Bishop not long before the manifesto, and
he had been married several years then to Debbie. But Debbie had no
children, and all the money the Bishop had to start with had been his
first wife's; so when it became necessary for him to discard a wife it
was a pretty hard question for him because a little child was coming to
the second wife and he had nothing to provide for her with except what
his first wife's money paid for. The first wife said she would consent
to him starting the second, if she filed on land and paid her back a
small sum every year until it was all paid back. So he took the poor
"second," after formally renouncing her, and helped her to file on the
land she now lives on. He built her a small cabin, and so she started
her career as a "second." I suppose the "first" thought she would be
rid of the second, who had never really been welcome, although the
Bishop could never have married a "second" without her consent.

"I would _never_ consent," said Mrs. O'Shaughnessy.

"Oh, yes, you would if you had been raised a Mormon," said our hostess.
"You see, we were all of us children of polygamous parents. We have
been used to plural marriages all our lives. We believe that such
experience fits us for our after-life, as we are only preparing for
life beyond while here."

"Do you expect to go to heaven, and do you think the man who married
you and then discarded you will go to heaven too?" asked Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy.

"Of course I do," she replied.

"Then," said Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, "I am afraid if it had been mysilf I'd
have been after raising a little hell here intirely."

Our hostess was not offended, and there followed a long recital of
earlier-day hard times that you would scarcely believe any one could
live through. It seems the first wife in such families is boss, and
while they do not live in the same homes, still she can very materially
affect the other's comfort.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy asked her if she had married again.

She said, "No."

"Then," said Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, "whose children are these?"

"My own," she replied.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was relentless. "Who is their father?" she asked.

I was right sorry for the poor little woman as she stammered, "I--I
don't know."

Then she went on, "Of course I _do_ know, and I don't believe you are
spying to try to stir up trouble for my husband. Bishop D---- is their
father, as he is still my husband, although he had to cast me off to
save himself and me. I love him and I see no wrong in him. All the
Gentiles have against him is he is a little too smart for them. 'T was
their foolish law that made him wrong the children and me, and _not_
his wishes."

"But," Mrs. O'Shaughnessy said, "it places your children in such a
plight; they can't inherit, they can't even claim his name, they have
no status legally."

"Oh, but the Bishop will see to that," the little woman answered.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy asked her if she had still to work as hard as she
used to.

"No, I don't believe I do," she said, "for since Mr. D---- has been
Bishop, things come easier. He built this house with his own money, so
Deb has nothing to do with it."

I asked her if she thought she was as happy as "second" as she would be
if she was the _only_ wife.

"Oh, I don't know," she said, "perhaps not. Deb and me don't always
agree. She is jealous of the children and because I am younger, and I
get to feeling bad when I think she is perfectly safe as a wife and has
no cares. She has everything she wants, and I have to take what I can
get, and my children have to wait upon her. But it will all come right
somewhere, sometime," she ended cheerfully, as she wiped her eyes with
her apron.

I felt so sorry for her and so ashamed to have seen into her sorrow
that I was really glad next morning when I heard Mr. Beeler's cheerful
voice calling, "All aboard!"

We had just finished breakfast, and few would ever guess that Mrs.
D---- knew a trial; she was so cheerful and so cordial as she bade us
good-bye and urged us to stop with her every time we passed through.

About noon that day we reached the railroad. The snow had delayed the
train farther north, so for once we were glad to have to wait for a
train, as it gave us time to get a bite to eat and to wash up a bit. It
was not long, however, till we were comfortably seated in the train. I
think a train ride might not be so enjoyable to most, but to us it was
a delight; I even enjoyed looking at the Negro porter, although I
suspect he expected to be called Mister. I found very soon after coming
West that I must not say "Uncle" or "Aunty" as I used to at home.

It was not long until they called the name of the town at which we
wanted to stop. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy had a few acquaintances there, but
we went to a hotel. We were both tired, so as soon as we had supper we
went to bed. The house we stopped at was warmer and more comfortable
than the average hotel in the West, but the partitions were very thin,
so when a couple of "punchers," otherwise cowboys, took the room next
to ours, we could hear every word they said.

It appears that one was English and the other a tenderfoot. The
tenderfoot was in love with a girl who had filed on a homestead near
the ranch on which he was employed, but who was then a waitress in the
hotel we were at. She had not seemed kind to the tenderfoot and he was
telling his friend about it. The Englishman was trying to instruct him
as to how to proceed.

"You need to be _very_ circumspect, Johnny, where females are
concerned, but you mustn't be too danged timid either."

"I don't know what the devil to say to her; I can barely nod my head
when she asks me will I take tea or coffee; and to-night she mixed it
because I nodded yes when she said, 'tea or coffee,' and it was the
dangdest mess I ever tried to get outside of."

"Well," the friend counseled, "you just get her into a corner some'eres
and say to 'er, 'Dearest 'Attie, I hoffer you my 'and hand my 'eart.'"

"But I _can't_," wailed Johnny. "I could never get her into a corner
anyway."

"If you can't, you're not hold enough to marry then. What the 'ell
would you do with a woman in the 'ouse if you couldn't corner 'er? I
tell 'e, women 'ave to 'ave a master, and no man better tackle that job
until 'e can be sure 'e can make 'er walk the chalk-line."

"But I don't want her to walk any line; I just want her to speak to
me."

"Dang me if I don't believe you are locoed. Why, she's got 'e throwed
hand 'og-tied now. What d'e want to make it any worse for?"

They talked for a long time and the Englishman continued to have
trouble with his _h_'s; but at last Johnny was encouraged to "corner
'er" next morning before they left for their ranch.

We expected to be astir early anyway, and our curiosity impelled us to
see the outcome of the friend's counsel, so we were almost the first in
the dining-room next morning. A rather pretty girl was busy arranging
the tables, and soon a boyish-looking fellow, wearing great bat-wing
chaps, came in and stood warming himself at the stove.

I knew at once it was Johnny, and I saw "'Attie" blush. The very
indifference with which she treated him argued well for his cause, but
of course he didn't know that. So when she passed by him and her skirt
caught on his big spurs they both stooped at once to unfasten it; their
heads hit together with such a bump that the ice was broken, although
he seemed to think it was her skull. I am sure there ought to be a thaw
after all his apologies. After breakfast Mrs. O'Shaughnessy went out to
see her friend Cormac O'Toole. He was the only person in town we could
hope to get a team from with which to continue our journey. This is a
hard country on horses at best, and at this time of the year
particularly so; few will let their teams go out at any price, but Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy had hopes, and she is so persuasive that I felt no one
could resist her. There was a drummer at breakfast who kept "cussing"
the country. He had tried to get a conveyance and had failed; so the
cold, the snow, the people, and everything else disgusted him.

Soon Mrs. O'Shaughnessy returned, and as the drummer was trying to get
out to E----, and that was our destination also, she made her way
toward him, intending to invite him to ride with us. She wore over her
best clothes an old coat that had once belonged to some one of her men
friends. It had once been bearskin, but was now more _bare_ skin, so
her appearance was against her; she looked like something with the
mange. So Mr. Drummer did not wait to hear what she was going to say
but at once exclaimed, "No, madam, I cannot let you ride out with me. I
can't get a rig myself in this beastly place." Then he turned to a man
standing near and remarked, "These Western women are so bold they don't
hesitate to _demand_ favors."

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's eyes fairly snapped, but she said nothing. I think
she took a malicious delight in witnessing the drummer's chagrin when a
few moments later our comfortable sleigh and good strong team appeared.

We were going to drive ourselves, but we had to drive to the depot for
our suit-cases; but when we got there the ticket-office was not open,
so the agent was probably having his beauty sleep. There was a fire in
the big stove, and we joined the bunch of men in the depot. Among them
we noticed a thin, consumptive-looking fellow, evidently a stranger.

Very soon some men began talking of some transaction in which a Bishop
B---- was concerned. It seemed they didn't admire the Bishop very much;
they kept talking of his peculiarities and transgressions, and
mentioned his treatment of his wives. His "second," they said, was
blind because of cataracts, and, although abundantly able, he left her
in darkness. She had never seen her two last children. Some one spoke
up and said, "I thought polygamy was no longer practiced." Then the man
explained that they no longer contracted plural marriages, but that
many kept _all_ their wives and B---- still had both of his. He went on
to say that although such practice is contrary to law, it was almost
impossible to make a case against them, for the women would not swear
against their husbands. B---- had been arrested once, but his second
swore that she didn't know who her children's father was, and it cost
the sheriff his office the next election.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy spoke to an acquaintance of hers and mentioned where
we were going. In a short while we got our suit-cases and we were off,
but as we drove past the freight depot, the stranger we had noticed
came down the steps and asked us to let him ride out with us. I really
felt afraid of him, but Mrs. O'Shaughnessy thinks herself a match for
any mere man, so she drew up and the man climbed in. He took the lines
and we snuggled down under the robes and listened to the runners,
shrill screeching over the frozen surface.

We had dinner with a new settler, and about two o'clock that afternoon
we overtook a fellow who was plodding along the road. His name was
B----, he said, and he pointed out to us his broad fields and herds. He
had been overseeing some feeders he had, and his horse had escaped, so
he was walking home, as it was only a couple of miles. He talked a
great deal in that two-mile trip; too much for his own good, it
developed.

For the first time since B---- climbed into our sleigh, the stranger
spoke. "Can you tell me where Mrs. Belle B---- lives?" he asked.

"Why, yes," our passenger replied. "She is a member of our little
flock. She is slightly related to me, as you perhaps noticed the name,
and I will show you to her house."

"Just how is she related to you?" the stranger asked.

"That," the man replied, "is a matter of protection. I have _given_ her
the protection of my name."

"Then she is your wife, is she not?" the stranger asked.

"You must be a stranger in this country," the man evaded. "What is your
name?"

But the stranger didn't seem to hear, and just then we came opposite
the residence of the Bishop, and the man we had picked up in the road
said, "That is my home, won't you get out and warm? My wife will be
glad to get acquainted with you ladies."

We declined, as it was only a short distance to the house of the man
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy had come to see, so he stayed in the sleigh to show
the stranger to the house of Mrs. Belle B----. I can't say much for it
as a house, and I was glad I didn't have to go in. The stranger and
B---- got out and entered the house, and we drove away.

Next morning, as we returned through the little village, it was all
excitement. Bishop B---- had been shot the night before, just as he had
left the house of Mrs. Belle B----, for what reason or by whom no one
knew; and if the Bishop knew he had not told, for he either would not
or could not talk.

They were going to start with him that day to the hospital, but they
had no hopes of his living.

When we came to Mrs. Belle's house, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy got out of the
sleigh and went into the house. I could hear her soothing voice, and I
was mighty glad the poor, forlorn woman had such a comforter.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was so _very_ glad to get home. How good it all looked to me! "Poop
o' Roome" has a calf, and as we drove up to the corral Clyde was trying
to get it into the stall with the rest. It is "Poop's" first calf, and
she is very proud of it, and objected to its being put away from her,
so she bunted at Clyde, and as he dodged her, the calf ran between his
feet and he sat down suddenly in the snow. I laughed at him, but I am
powerfully glad he is no follower of old Joseph Smith.

Mrs. Louderer was enjoying herself immensely, she loves children so
much. She and Clyde hired the "Tackler"--so called because he will
tackle _any_ kind of a job, whether he knows anything about it or
not--to paper the room. He thinks he is a great judge of the fitness of
things and of beauty. The paper has a stripe of roses, so Tackler
reversed every other strip so that some of my roses are standing on
their heads. Roses don't all grow one way, he claims, and so his method
"makes 'em look more nachul like."

A little thing like wall-paper put on upside down don't bother me; but
what _would_ I do if I were a "second"?

  Your loving friend,
    ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



XXVI

SUCCESS


     _November, 1913._

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

This is Sunday and I suppose I ought not to be writing, but I must
write to you and I may not have another chance soon. Both your letters
have reached me, and now that our questions are settled we can proceed
to proceed.

Now, this is the letter I have been wanting to write you for a long
time, but could not because until now I had not actually proven all I
wanted to prove. Perhaps it will not interest you, but if you see a
woman who wants to homestead and is a little afraid she will starve,
you can tell her what I am telling you.

I never did like to theorize, and so this year I set out to prove that
a woman could ranch if she wanted to. We like to grow potatoes on new
ground, that is, newly cleared land on which no crop has been grown.
Few weeds grow on new land, so it makes less work. So I selected my
potato-patch, and the man ploughed it, although I could have done that
if Clyde would have let me. I cut the potatoes, Jerrine helped, and we
dropped them in the rows. The man covered them, and that ends the man's
part. By that time the garden ground was ready, so I planted the
garden. I had almost an acre in vegetables. I irrigated and I
cultivated it myself.

We had all the vegetables we could possibly use, and now Jerrine and I
have put in our cellar full, and this is what we have: one large bin of
potatoes (more than two tons), half a ton of carrots, a large bin of
beets, one of turnips, one of onions, one of parsnips, and on the other
side of the cellar we have more than one hundred heads of cabbage. I
have experimented and found a kind of squash that can be raised here,
and that the ripe ones keep well and make good pies; also that the
young tender ones make splendid pickles, quite equal to cucumbers. I
was glad to stumble on to that, because pickles are hard to manufacture
when you have nothing to work with. Now I have plenty. They told me
when I came that I could not even raise common beans, but I tried and
succeeded. And also I raised lots of green tomatoes, and, as we like
them preserved, I made them all up that way. Experimenting along
another line, I found that I could make catchup, as delicious as that
of tomatoes, of gooseberries. I made it exactly the same as I do the
tomatoes and I am delighted. Gooseberries were very fine and very
plentiful this year, so I put up a great many. I milked ten cows twice
a day all summer; have sold enough butter to pay for a year's supply of
flour and gasoline. We use a gasoline lamp. I have raised enough
chickens to completely renew my flock, and all we wanted to eat, and
have some fryers to go into the winter with. I have enough turkeys for
all of our birthdays and holidays.

I raised a great many flowers and I worked several days in the field.
In all I have told about I have had no help but Jerrine. Clyde's mother
spends each summer with us, and she helped me with the cooking and the
babies. Many of my neighbors did better than I did, although I know
many town people would doubt my doing so much, but I did it. I have
tried every kind of work this ranch affords, and I can do any of it. Of
course I _am_ extra strong, but those who try know that strength and
knowledge come with doing. I just love to experiment, to work, and to
prove out things, so that ranch life and "roughing it" just suit me.


THE END


       *       *       *       *       *





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