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Title: Letters on an Elk Hunt
Author: Stewart, Elinore Pruitt, 1878-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 on an Elk Hunt" ***

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 LETTERS ON AN ELK HUNT

 BY A

 WOMAN HOMESTEADER

 _Elinore Pruitt Stewart_

 UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PRESS
 Lincoln and London



 Copyright, 1915, by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

 All rights reserved

 Copyright © renewed 1943 by H C Stewart

 First Bison Book Printing 1979

 Most recent printing indicated by first digit below
                                       7 8 9 10

 Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

 Stewart, Elinore Pruitt, 1878-- Letters on an elk hunt

   1 Stewart, Elinore Pruitt, 1878-- 2 Frontier and pioneer
 life--Wyoming  3 Elk   hunting--Wyoming  4 Pioneers--Wyoming--Biography
 5 Wyoming--Biography I  Title

 F761 S82 1979 978 7'03'0924 79-13840

 ISBN 0-8032-4112-7

 ISBN 0-8032-9112-4 pbk

 Published by arrangement
 with Houghton Mifflin Company

 Manufactured in the United States of America



[Illustration: _Photograph courtesy of Clyde Stewart_]



 CONTENTS


    I. CONNIE WILLIS                              1

   II. THE START                                 13

  III. EDEN VALLEY                               24

   IV. CRAZY OLAF AND OTHERS                     34

    V. DANYUL AND HIS MOTHER                     57

   VI. ELIZABETH'S ROMANCE                       81

  VII. THE HUNT                                  95

 VIII. THE SEVENTH MAN                          109

   IX. AN INDIAN CAMP                           118

    X. THE TOOTH-HUNTERS                        124

   XI. BUDDY AND BABY GIRL                      130

  XII. A STAMPEDE                               143

 XIII. NEARING HOME                             156

  XIV. THE MEMORY-BED                           160



 LETTERS ON AN ELK HUNT
 By a Woman Homesteader



I

CONNIE WILLIS


                              BURNT FORK, WYO., July 8, 1914.

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

Your letter of the 4th just to hand. How glad your letters make me;
how glad I am to have you to tell little things to.

I intended to write you as soon as I came back from Green River, to
tell you of a girl I saw there; but there was a heap to do and I kept
putting it off. I have described the desert so often that I am afraid
I will tire you, so I will leave that out and tell you that we arrived
in town rather late. The help at the hotel were having their supper in
the regular dining-room, as all the guests were out. They cheerfully
left their own meal to place ours on the table.

One of them interested me especially. She was a small person; I
couldn't decide whether she was a child or a woman. I kept thinking
her homely, and then when she spoke I forgot everything but the music
of her voice,--it was so restful, so rich and mellow in tone, and she
seemed so small for such a splendid voice. Somehow I kept expecting
her to squeak like a mouse, but every word she spoke charmed me.
Before the meal was over it came out that she was the dish-washer. All
the rest of the help had finished their work for the day, but she, of
course, had to wash what dishes we had been using.

The rest went their ways; and as our own tardiness had belated her, I
offered to help her to carry out the dishes. It was the work of only a
moment to dry them, so I did that. She was so small that she had to
stand on a box in order to be comfortable while she washed the cups
and plates.

"The sink and drain-board were made for real folks. I have to use this
box to stand on, or else the water runs back down my sleeves," she
told me.

My room was upstairs; she helped me up with the children. She said her
name was Connie Willis, that she was the only one of her "ma's first
man's" children; but ma married again after pa died and there were a
lot of the second batch. When the mother died she left a baby only a
few hours old. As Connie was older than the other children she took
charge of the household and of the tiny little baby.

I just wish you could have seen her face light up when she spoke of
little Lennie.

"Lennie is eight years old now, and she is just as smart as the
smartest and as pretty as a doll. All the Ford children are pretty,
and smart, too. I am the only homely child ma had. It would do you
good just to look at any of the rest, 'specially Lennie."

It certainly did me good to listen to Connie,--her brave patience was
so inspiring. As long as I was in town she came every day when her
work was finished to talk to me about Lennie. For herself she had no
ambition. Her clothes were clean, but they were odds and ends that had
served their day for other possessors; her shoes were not mates, and
one was larger than the other. She said: "I thought it was a streak
of luck when I found the cook always wore out her right shoe first
and the dining-room girl the left, because, you see, I could have
their old ones and that would save two dollars toward what I am saving
up for. But it wasn't so very lucky after all except for the fun,
because the cook wears low heels and has a much larger foot than the
dining-room girl, who wears high heels. But I chopped the long heel
off with the cleaver, and these shoes have saved me enough to buy
Lennie a pair of patent-leather slippers to wear on the Fourth of
July."

I thought that a foolish ambition, but succeeding conversations made
me ashamed of the thought.

I asked her if Lennie's father couldn't take care of her.

"Oh," she said, "Pa Ford is a good man. He has a good heart, but
there's so many of them that it is all he can do to rustle what must
be had. Why," she told me in a burst of confidence, "I've been saving
up for a tombstone for ma for twelve years, but I have to help pa once
in a while, and I sometimes think I never will get enough money saved.
It is kind of hard on three dollars a week, and then I'm kind of
extravagant at times. I have wanted a doll, a beautiful one, all my
days. Last Christmas I got it--for Lennie. And then I like to carry
out other folks' wishes sometimes. That is what I am fixing to do now.
Ma always wanted to see me dressed up real pretty just once, but we
were always too poor, and now I'm too old. But I can fix Lennie, and
this Fourth of July I am going to put all the beauty on her that ma
would have liked to see on me. They always celebrate that day at
Manila, Utah, where pa lives. I'll go out and take the things. Then
if ma is where she can see, she'll see _one_ of her girls dressed for
once."

"But aren't you mistaken when you say you have been saving for your
mother's tombstone for twelve years? She's only been dead eight."

"Why no, I'm not. You see, at first it wasn't a tombstone but a
marble-top dresser. Ma had always wanted one so badly; for she always
thought that housekeeping would be so much easier if she had just
one pretty thing to keep house toward. If I had not been so selfish,
she could have had the dresser before she died. I had fifteen
dollars,--enough to buy it,--but when I came to look in the catalogue
to choose one I found that for fifteen dollars more I could get a
whole set. I thought how proud ma would be of a new bedstead and
wash-stand, so I set in to earn that much more. But before I could get
that saved up ma just got tired of living, waiting, and doing without.
She never caused any trouble while she lived, and she died the same
way.

"They sent for me to come home from the place where I was at work. I
had just got home, and I was standing by the bed holding ma's hand,
when she smiled up at me; she handed me Lennie and then turned over
and sighed so contented. That was all there was to it. She was done
with hard times.

"Pa Ford wanted to buy her coffin on credit,--to go in debt for
it,--but I hated for ma to have to go on that way even after she was
dead; so I persuaded him to use what money he had to buy the coffin,
and I put in all I had, too. So the coffin she lies in is her own. We
don't owe for _that_. Then I stayed at home and kept house and cared
for Lennie until she was four years old. I have been washing dishes in
this hotel ever since."

That is Connie's story. After she told me, I went to the landlady and
suggested that we help a little with Lennie's finery; but she told me
to "keep out." "I doubt if Connie would accept any help from us, and
if she did, every cent we put in would take that much from her
pleasure. There have not been many happy days in her life, but the
Fourth of July will be one if we keep out." So I kept out.

I was delighted when Mrs. Pearson invited me to accompany her to
Manila to witness the bucking contest on the Fourth. Manila is a
pretty little town, situated in Lucerne Valley. All the houses in town
are the homes of ranchers, whose farms may be seen from any doorstep
in Manila. The valley lies between a high wall of red sandstone and
the "hogback,"--that is what the foothills are called. The wall of
sandstone is many miles in length. The valley presents a beautiful
picture as you go eastward; at this time of the year the alfalfa is so
green. Each farm joins another. Each has a cabin in which the rancher
lives while they irrigate and make hay. When that is finished they
move into their houses in "town." Beyond the hogback rise huge
mountains, rugged cañons, and noisy mountain streams; great forests of
pine help to make up the picture. Looking toward the east we could see
where mighty Green River cuts its way through walls of granite. The
road lies close up against the sandstone and cedar hills and along the
canal that carries the water to all the farms in the valley. I enjoyed
every moment. It was all so beautiful,--the red rock, the green
fields, the warm brown sand of the road and bare places, the mighty
mountains, the rugged cedars and sage-brush spicing the warm air, the
blue distance and the fleecy clouds. Oh, I wish I could paint it for
you! In the foreground there should be some cows being driven home by
a barefooted boy with a gun on his shoulder and a limp brown rabbit in
his hand. But I shall have to leave that to your imagination and move
on to the Fourth.

On that day every one turns out; even from the very farthest outlying
ranches they come, and every one dressed in his best. No matter what
privation is suffered all the rest of the time, on this day every one
is dressed to kill. Every one has a little money with which to buy
gaudy boxes of candy; every girl has a chew of gum. Among the children
friendship is proved by invitations to share lemons. They cordially
invite each other to "come get a suck o' my lemon." I just _love_ to
watch them. Old and young are alike; whatever may trouble them at
other times is forgotten, and every one dances, eats candy, sucks
lemons, laughs, and makes merry on the Fourth.

I didn't care much for their contests. I was busy watching the faces.
Soon I saw one I knew. Connie was making her way toward me. I wondered
how I could ever have thought her plain. Pride lighted every feature.
She led by the hand the most beautiful child I have ever seen. She is
a few weeks younger than Jerrine[1] but much smaller. She had such an
elusive beauty that I cannot describe it. One not acquainted with her
story might have thought her dress out of taste out among the sand
dunes and sage-brush in the hot sun, but I knew, and I felt the thrill
of sheer blue silk, dainty patent-leather slippers, and big blue hat
just loaded with pink rose-buds.

[Footnote 1: The author's daughter, aged eight.]

"This is my Lennie," said Connie proudly.

I saw all the Ford family before I left,--the weak-faced,
discouraged-looking father and the really beautiful girls. Connie was
neat in a pretty little dress, cheap but becoming, and her shoes were
mates. Lennie was the center of family pride. She represented all
their longings.

Before I left, Connie whispered to me that she would very soon have
money enough to pay for her mother's tombstone. "Then I will have had
everything I ever wanted. I guess I won't have anything else to live
for then; I guess I will have to get to wanting something for Lennie."

On our way home even the mosquito bites didn't annoy me; I was too
full of Connie's happiness. All my happiness lacked was your presence.
If I had had you beside me to share the joy and beauty, I could have
asked for nothing more. I kept saying, "How Mrs. Coney would enjoy
this!" All I can do is to kind of hash it over for you. I hope you
like hash.

                              With much love to you,
                                   ELINORE.



II

THE START


                              IN CAMP ON THE DESERT,
                                   August 24, 1914.

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

At last we are off. I am powerfully glad. I shall have to enjoy this
trip for us both. You see how greedy I am for new experiences! I have
never been on a prolonged hunt before, so I am looking forward to a
heap of fun. I hardly know what to do about writing, but shall try to
write every two days. I want you to have as much of this trip as I can
put on paper, so we will begin at the start.

To begin with we were all to meet at Green River, to start the
twentieth; but a professor coming from somewhere in the East delayed
us a day, and also some of the party changed their plans; that reduced
our number but not our enthusiasm.

A few days before we left the ranch I telephoned Mrs. Louderer and
tried to persuade her to go along, but she replied, "For why should I
go? Vat? Iss it to freeze? I can sleep out on some rocks here and with
a stick I can beat the sage-bush, which will give me the smell you
will smell of the outside. And for the game I can have a beef kill
which iss better to eat as elk."

I love Mrs. Louderer dearly, but she is absolutely devoid of
imagination, and her matter-of-factness is mighty trying sometimes.
However, she sent me a bottle of goose-grease to ward off colds from
the "kinder."

I tried Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, but she was plumb aggravating and
non-committal, and it seemed when we got to Green River that I would
be the only woman in the party. Besides, all the others were strangers
to me except young Mr. Haynes, who was organizing the hunt. Really the
prospect didn't seem so joyous.

The afternoon before we were to start I went with Mr. Stewart and Mr.
Haynes to meet the train. We were expecting the professor. But the
only passenger who got off was a slight, gray-eyed girl. She looked
about her uncertainly for a moment and then went into the depot while
we returned to the hotel. Just as I started up the steps my eyes were
gladdened by the sight of Mrs. O'Shaughnessy in her buckboard trotting
merrily up the street. She waved her hand to us and drove up. Clyde
took her team to the livery barn and she came up to my room with me.

"It's going with you I am," she began. "Ye'll need somebody to keep
yez straight and to sew up the holes ye'll be shooting into each
other."

After she had "tidied up a bit" we went down to supper. We were all
seated at one table, and there was yet an empty place; but soon the
girl we had seen get off the train came and seated herself in it.

"Can any of you tell me how to get to Kendall, Wyoming?" she asked.

I didn't know nor did Clyde, but Mrs. O'Shaughnessy knew, so she
answered. "Kendall is in the forest reserve up north. It is two
hundred miles from here and half of the distance is across desert, but
they have an automobile route as far as Pinedale; you could get that
far on the auto stage. After that I suppose you could get some one to
take you on."

"Thank you," said the girl. "My name is Elizabeth Hull. I am alone in
the world, and I am not expected at Kendall, so I am obliged to ask
and to take care of myself."

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy at once mentioned her own name and introduced the
rest of us. After supper Miss Hull and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy had a long
talk. I was not much surprised when Mrs. O'Shaughnessy came in to tell
me that she was going to take the girl along. "Because," she said,
"Kendall is on our way and it's glad I am to help a lone girl. Did you
notice the freckles of her? Sure her forbears hailed from Killarney."

So early next morning we were astir. We had outfitted in Green River,
so the wagons were already loaded. I had rather dreaded the professor.
I had pictured to myself a very dignified, bespectacled person, and
I mentally stood in awe of his great learning. Imagine my surprise
when a boyish, laughing young man introduced himself as Professor
Glenholdt. He was so jolly, so unaffected, and so altogether likable,
that my fear vanished and I enjoyed the prospect of his company. Mr.
Haynes and his friend Mr. Struble on their wagon led the way, then we
followed, and after us came Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, and Miss Hull brought
up the rear, with the professor riding horseback beside first one
wagon and then another.

So we set out. There was a great jangling and banging, for our tin
camp-stoves kept the noise going. Neither the children nor I can ride
under cover on a wagon, we get so sick; so there we were, perched
high up on great rolls of bedding and a tent. I reckon we looked funny
to the "onlookers looking on" as we clattered down the street; but we
were off and that meant a heap.

All the morning our way lay up the beautiful river, past the great red
cliffs and through tiny green parks, but just before noon the road
wound itself up on to the mesa, which is really the beginning of the
desert. We crowded into the shadow of the wagons to eat our midday
meal; but we could not stop long, because it was twenty-eight miles to
where we could get water for the horses when we should camp that
night. So we wasted no time.

Shortly after noon we could see white clouds of alkali dust ahead. By
and by we came up with the dust-raisers. The children and I had got
into the buckboard with Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Miss Hull, so as to
ride easier and be able to gossip, and we had driven ahead of the
wagons, so as to avoid the stinging dust.

The sun was just scorching when we overtook the funniest layout I have
seen since Cora Belle[2] drove up to our door the first time. In a
wobbly old buckboard sat a young couple completely engrossed by each
other. That he was a Westerner we knew by his cowboy hat and boots;
that she was an Easterner, by her not knowing how to dress for the
ride across the desert. She wore a foolish little chiffon hat which
the alkali dust had ruined, and all the rest of her clothes matched.
But over them the enterprising young man had raised one of those big
old sunshades that had lettering on them. It kept wobbling about in
the socket he had improvised; one minute we could see "Tea"; then a
rut in the road would swing "Coffee" around. Their sunshade kept
revolving about that way, and sometimes their heads revolved a little
bit, too. We could hear a word occasionally and knew they were having
a great deal of fun at our expense; but we were amused ourselves, so
we didn't care. They would drive along slowly until we almost reached
them; then they would whip up and raise such a dust that we were
almost choked.

[Footnote 2: The story of Cora Belle is told in _Letters of a Woman
Homesteader_.]

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy determined to drive ahead; so she trotted up
alongside, but she could not get ahead. The young people were
giggling. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy doesn't like to be the joke all the time.
Suddenly she leaned over toward them and said: "Will ye tell me
something?" Oh, yes, they would. "Then," she said, "which of you are
Tea and which Coffee?"

Their answer was to drive up faster and stir up a powerful lot of
dust. They kept pretty well ahead after that, but at sundown we came
up with them at the well where we were to camp. This well had been
sunk by the county for the convenience of travelers, and we were
mighty thankful to find it. It came out that our young couple were
bride and groom. They had never seen each other until the night
before, having met through a matrimonial paper. They had met in Green
River and were married that morning, and the young husband was taking
her away up to Pinedale to his ranch.

They must have been ideally happy, for they had forgotten their
mess-box, and had only a light lunch. They had only their lap-robe for
bedding. They were in a predicament; but the girl's chief concern was
lest "Honey-bug" should let the wolves get her. Though it is scorching
hot on the desert by day, the nights are keenly cool, and I was
wondering how they would manage with only their lap-robe, when Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy, who cannot hold malice, made a round of the camp,
getting a blanket here and a coat there, until she had enough to make
them comfortable. Then she invited them to take their meals with us
until they could get to where they could help themselves.

I think we all enjoyed camp that night, for we were all tired. We were
in a shallow little cañon,--not a tree, not even a bush except
sage-brush. Luckily, there was plenty of that, so we had roaring
fires. We sat around the fire talking as the blue shadows faded into
gray dusk and the big stars came out. The newly-weds were, as the
bride put it, "so full of happiness they had nothing to put it in."
Certainly their spirits overflowed. They were eager to talk of
themselves and we didn't mind listening.

They are Mr. and Mrs. Tom Burney. She is the oldest of a large family
of children and has had to "work out ever since she was big enough to
get a job." The people she had worked for rather frowned upon any
matrimonial ventures, and as no provision was made for "help"
entertaining company, she had never had a "beau." One day she got hold
of a matrimonial paper and saw Mr. Burney's ad. She answered and they
corresponded for several months. We were just in time to "catch it,"
as Mr. Haynes--who is a confirmed bachelor--disgustedly remarked.
Personally, I am glad; I like them much better than I thought I should
when they were raising so much dust so unnecessarily.

I must close this letter, as I see the men are about ready to
start. The children are standing the trip well, except that Robert
is a little sun-blistered. Did I tell you we left Junior with his
grandmother? Even though I have the other three, my heart is hungry
for my "big boy," who is only a baby, too. He is such a precious
little man. I wish you could see him!

With a heart very full of love for you,

                              E. R. S.



III

EDEN VALLEY


                              IN CAMP, August 28.

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

We are almost across the desert, and I am really becoming interested.
The difficulties some folks work under are enough to make many of us
ashamed. In the very center of the desert is a little settlement
called Eden Valley. Imagination must have had a heap to do with its
name, but one thing is certain: the serpent will find the crawling
rather bad if he attempts to enter _this_ Eden, for the sand is hot;
the alkali and the cactus are there, so it must be a serpentless Eden.
The settlers have made a long canal and bring their water many miles.
They say the soil is splendid, and they don't have much stone; but it
is such a flat place! I wonder how they get the water to run when they
irrigate.

We saw many deserted homes. Hope's skeletons they are, with their
yawning doors and windows like eyeless sockets. Some of the houses,
which looked as if they were deserted, held families. We camped near
one such. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and I went up to the house to buy some
eggs. A hopeless-looking woman came to the door. The hot winds and the
alkali dust had tanned her skin and bleached her hair; both were a
gray-brown. Her eyes were blue, but were so tired-looking that I could
hardly see for the tears.

"No," she said, "we ain't got no eggs. We ain't got no chickens. You
see this ground is sandy, and last year the wind blowed awful hard and
all the grain blowed out, so we didn't have no chance to raise
chickens. We had no feed and no money to buy feed, so we had to kill
our chickens to save their lives. We et 'em. They would have starved
anyway."

Then we tried for some vegetables. "Well," she said, "they ain't much
to look at; maybe you'll not want 'em. Our garden ain't much this
year. Pa has had to work out all the time. The kids and me put in some
seed--all we had--with a hoe. We ain't got no horse; our team died
last winter. We didn't have much feed and it was shore a hard winter.
We hated to see old Nick and Fanny die. They were just like ones of
the family. We drove 'em clean from Missouri, too. But they died, and
what hurt me most was, pa 'lowed it would be a turrible waste not to
skin 'em. I begged him not to. Land knows the pore old things was
entitled to their hides, they got so little else; but pa said it
didn't make no difference to them whether they had any hide or not,
and that the skins would sell for enough to get the kids some shoes.
And they did. A Jew junk man came through and give pa three dollars
for the two hides, and that paid for a pair each for Johnny and Eller.

"Pa hated as bad as we did to lose our faithful old friends, and all
the winter long we grieved, the kids and me. Every time the coyotes
yelped we knew they were gathering to gnaw poor old Nick and Fan's
bones. And pa, to keep from crying himself when the kids and me would
be sobbin', would scold us. 'My goodness,' he would say, 'the horses
are dead and they don't know nothin' about cold and hunger. They don't
know nothin' about sore shoulders and hard pulls now, so why don't you
shut up and let them and me rest in peace?' But that was only pa's way
of hidin' the tears.

"When spring came the kids and me gathered all the bones and hair we
could find of our good old team, and buried 'em where you see that
green spot. That's grass. We scooped all the trash out of the mangers,
and spread it over the grave, and the timothy and the redtop seed in
the trash came up and growed. I'd liked to have put some flowers
there, but we had no seed."

She wiped her face on her apron, and gathered an armful of cabbage;
it had not headed but was the best she had. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy seemed
possessed; she bought stuff she knew she would have to throw away, but
she didn't offer one word of sympathy. I felt plumb out of patience
with her, for usually she can say the most comforting things.

"Why don't you leave this place? Why not go away somewhere else, where
it will not be so hard to start?" I asked.

"Oh, 'cause pa's heart is just set on making a go of it here, and we
would be just as pore anywhere else. We have tried a heap of times to
start a home, and we've worked hard, but we were never so pore before.
We have been here three years and we can prove up soon; then maybe we
can go away and work somewhere, enough to get a team anyway. Pa has
already worked out his water-right,--he's got water for all his land
paid for, if we only had a team to plough with. But we'll get it. Pa's
been workin' all summer in the hay, and he ought to have a little
stake saved. Then the sheep-men will be bringin' in their herds
soon's frost comes and pa 'lows to get a job herdin'. Anyway, we got
to stick. We ain't got no way to get away and all we got is right
here. Every last dollar we had has went into improvin' this place. If
pore old hard-worked pa can stand it, the kids and me can. We ain't
seen pa for two months, not sence hayin' began, but we work all we can
to shorten the days; and we sure do miss pore old Nick and Fan."

We gathered up as much of the vegetables as we could carry. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy paid, and we started homeward, promising to send for the
rest of the beets and potatoes. On the way we met two children, and
knew them at once for "Johnny and Eller." They had pails, and were
carrying water from the stream and pouring it on the green spot that
covered Nick and Fan. We promised them each a dime if they would bring
the vegetables we had left. Their little faces shone, and we had to
hurry all we could to get supper ready before they came; for we were
determined they should eat supper with us.

We told the men before the little tykes came. So Mr. Struble let
Johnny shoot his gun and both youngsters rode Chub and Antifat to
water. They were bright little folks and their outlook upon life is
not so flat and colorless as their mother's is. A day holds a world of
chance for them. They were saving their money, they told us, "to buy
some house plants for ma." Johnny had a dollar which a sheep-man had
given him for taking care of a sore-footed dog. Ella had a dime which
a man had given her for filling his water-bag. They both hoped to pull
wool off dead sheep and make some more money that way. They had quite
made up their minds about what they wanted to get: it must be house
plants for ma; but still they both wished they could get some little
thing for pa. They were not pert or forward in any way, but they
answered readily and we all drew them out, even the newly-weds.

After supper the men took their guns and went out to shoot sage-hens.
Johnny went with Mr. Haynes and Mr. Struble. Miss Hull walked back
with Ella, and we sent Mrs. Sanders a few cans of fruit. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy and I washed the dishes. We were talking of the Sanders
family. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was disgusted with me because I wept.

"You think it is a soft heart you have, but it is only your head that
is soft. Of course they are having a hard time. What of it? The very
root of independence is hard times. That's the way America was
founded; that is why it stands so firmly. Hard times is what makes
sound characters. And them kids are getting a new hold on character
that was very near run to seed in the parents. Johnny will be
tax-assessor yet, I'll bet you, and you just watch that Eller. It
won't surprise me a bit to see her county superintendent of schools.
The parents most likely never would make anything; but having just
only a pa and a ma and getting the very hard licks them kids are
getting now, is what is going to make them something more than a pa
and a ma."

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy is very wise, but sometimes she seems absolutely
heartless.

The men didn't bring back much game; each had left a share with Mrs.
Sanders.

Next morning we were astir early. We pulled out of camp just as the
first level rays of the sun shot across the desolate, flat country. We
crossed the flat little stream with its soft sandy banks. A willow
here and there along the bank and the blue, distant mountains and some
lonesome buttes were all there was to break the monotony. Yet we saw
some prosperous-looking places with many haystacks. I looked back once
toward the Sanders cabin. The blue smoke was just beginning to curl
upward from the stove pipe. The green spot looked vividly green
against the dim prospect. Poor pa and poor ma! Even if they could be
_nothing_ more, I wish at least that they need not have given up Nick
and Fan!

Mr. Haynes told us at breakfast that we would camp only one more night
on the desert. I am so glad of that. The newly-weds will leave us in
two more days. I'm rather sorry; they are much nicer than I thought
they would be. They have invited us to stay with them on our way back.
Well, I must stop. I wish I could put some of this clean morning air
inside your apartments.

                         With much love,
                              E. R. S.



IV

CRAZY OLAF AND OTHERS


                              IN CAMP, August 31, 1914.

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

We are across the desert, and camped for a few days' fishing on a
shady, bowery little stream. We have had two frosty nights and there
are trembling golden groves on every hand. Four men joined us at
Newfork, and the bachelors have gone on; but Mr. Stewart wanted to
rest the "beasties" and we all wanted to fish, so we camped for a day
or two.

The twenty-eighth was the warmest day we have had, the most
disagreeable in every way. Not a breath of air stirred except an
occasional whirlwind, which was hot and threw sand and dust over us.
We could see the heat glimmering, and not a tree nor a green spot. The
mountains looked no nearer. I am afraid we _all_ rather wished we
were at home. Water was getting very scarce, so the men wanted to
reach by noon a long, low valley they knew of; for sometimes water
could be found in a buried river-bed there, and they hoped to find
enough for the horses. But a little after noon we came to the spot,
and only dry, glistening sand met our eyes. The men emptied the
water-bags for the horses; they all had a little water. We had to be
saving, so none of us washed our dust-grimed faces.

We were sitting in the scant shadow of the wagons eating our dinner
when we were startled to see a tall, bare-headed man come racing
down the draw. His clothes and shoes were in tatters; there were
great blisters on his arms and shoulders where the sun had burned
him; his eyes were swollen and red, and his lips were cracked and
bloody. His hair was so white and so dusty that altogether he was a
pitiful-looking object. He greeted us pleasantly, and said that his
name was Olaf Swanson and that he was a sheep-herder; that he had
seen us and had come to ask for a little smoking. By that he meant
tobacco.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was eyeing him very closely. She asked him when he
had eaten. That morning, he said. She asked him _what_ he had eaten;
he told her cactus balls and a little rabbit. I saw her exchange
glances with Professor Glenholdt, and she left her dinner to get out
her war-bag.

She called Olaf aside and gently dressed his blisters with listerine;
after she had helped him to clean his mouth she said to him, "Now,
Olaf, sit by me and eat; show me how much you can eat. Then tell me
what you mean by saying you are a sheep-herder; don't you think we
know there will be no sheep on the desert before there is snow to make
water for them?"

"I am what I say I am," he said. "I am not herding now because sorrow
has drove me to dig wells. It is sorrow for horses. Have you not seen
their bones every mile or so along this road? Them's markers. Every
pile of bones marks where man's most faithful friend has laid down at
last: most of 'em died in the harness and for want of water.

"I killed a horse once. I was trying to have a good time. I had been
out with sheep for months and hadn't seen any one but my pardner. We
planned to have a rippin' good time when we took the sheep in off the
summer range and drew our pay. You don't know how people-hungry a man
gets livin' out. So my pardner and me layed out to have one spree. We
had a neat little bunch of money, but when we got to town we felt lost
as sheep. We didn't know nobody but the bartender. We kept taking a
drink now and then just so as to have him to talk to. Finally, he told
us there was going to be a dance that night, so we asked around and
found we could get tickets for two dollars each. Sam said he'd like to
go. We bought tickets.

"Somehow or another they knew us for sheep-herders, and every once in
a while somebody would _baa-baa_ at us. We had a couple of dances, but
after that we couldn't get a pardner. After midnight things begun to
get pretty noisy. Sam and me was settin' wonderin' if we were havin' a
good time, when a fellow stepped on Sam's foot and said _baa_. I rose
up and was goin' to smash him, but Sam collared me and said, 'Let's
get away from here, Olaf, before trouble breaks out.' It sounded as if
every man in the house and some of the women were _baa_-ing.

"We were pretty near the door when a man put his hand to his nose and
_baa_-ed. I knocked him down, and before you could bat your eye
everybody was fightin'. We couldn't get out, so we backed into a
corner; and every man my fist hit rested on the floor till somebody
helped him away. A fellow hit me on the head with a chair and I didn't
know how I finished or got out.

"The first thing I remember after that was feeling the greasewood
thorns tearing my flesh and my clothes next day. We were away out on
the desert not far from North Pilot butte. Poor Sam couldn't speak. I
got him off poor old Pinto, and took off the saddle for a pillow for
him. I hung the saddle-blanket on a greasewood so as to shade his
face; then I got on my own poor horse, poor old Billy, and started to
hunt help. I rode and rode. I was tryin' to find some outfit. When
Billy lagged I beat him on. You see, I was thinking of Sam. After a
while the horse staggered,--stepped into a badger hole, I thought. But
he kept staggerin'. I fell off on one side just as he pitched forward.
He tried and tried to get up. I stayed till he died; then I kept
walking. I don't know what became of Sam; I don't know what became of
me; but I do know I am going to dig wells all over this desert until
every thirsty horse can have water."

All the time he had been eating just pickles; when he finished his
story he ate faster. By now we all knew he was demented. The men tried
to coax him to go on with us so that they could turn him over to the
authorities, but he said he must be digging. At last it was decided to
send some one back for him. Mr. Struble was unwilling to leave him,
but the man would not be persuaded. Suddenly he gathered up his
"smoking" and some food and ran back up the draw. We had to go on, of
course.

All that afternoon our road lay along the buried river. I don't mean
dry river. Sand had blown into the river until the water was buried.
Water was only a few feet down, and the banks were clearly defined.
Sometimes we came to a small, dirty puddle, but it was so alkaline
that nothing could drink it. The story we had heard had saddened us
all, and we were sorry for our horses. Poor little Elizabeth Hull
wept. She said the West was so big and bare, and she was so alone and
so sad, she just _had_ to cry.

About sundown we came to a ranch and were made welcome by one Timothy
Hobbs, owner of the place. The dwelling and the stables were a
collection of low brown houses, made of logs and daubed with mud.
Fields of shocked grain made a very prosperous-looking background. A
belled cow led a bunch of sleek cattle home over the sand dunes. A
well in the yard afforded plenty of clear, cold water, which was
raised by a windmill. The cattle came and drank at the trough, the
bell making a pleasant sound in the twilight.

The men told Mr. Hobbs about the man we saw. "Oh, yes," he said, "that
is Crazy Olaf. He has been that way for twenty years. Spends his time
digging wells, but he never gets any water, and the sand caves in
almost as fast as he can get it out." Then he launched upon a recital
of how he got sweet water by piping past the alkali strata. I kept
hoping he would tell how Olaf was kept and who was responsible for
him, but he never told.

He invited us to prepare our supper in his kitchen, and as it was late
and wood was scarce, we were glad to accept. He bustled about helping
us, adding such dainties as fresh milk, butter, and eggs to our menu.
He is a rather stout little man, with merry gray eyes and brown hair
beginning to gray. He wore a red shirt and blue overalls, and he wiped
his butcher's knife impartially on the legs of his overalls or his
towel,--just whichever was handiest as he hurried about cutting our
bacon and opening cans for us.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and he got on famously. After supper, while she and
Elizabeth washed the dishes, she asked him why he didn't get married
and have some one to look after him and his cabin.

"I don't have time," he answered. "I came West eighteen years ago to
make a start and a home for Jennie and me, but I can't find time to go
back and get her. In the summer I have to hustle to make the hay and
grain, and I have to stay and feed the stock all the rest of the
time."

"You write her once in a while, don't you?" asked Mrs. O'Shaughnessy.

"Yes," he said, "I wrote her two years ago come April; then I was so
busy I didn't go to town till I went for my year's supplies. I went to
the post office, and sure enough there was a letter for me,--been
waitin' for me for six months. You see the postmaster knows me and
never would send a letter back. I set down there right in the office
and answered it. I told her how it was, told her I was coming after
her soon as I could find time. You see, she refuses to come to me
'cause I am so far from the railroad, and she is afraid of Indians and
wild animals."

"Have you got your answer?" asked Elizabeth.

"No," he said, "I ain't had time yet to go, but I kind of wish
somebody would think to bring the mail. Not many people pass here,
only when the open season takes hunters to the mountains. When you
people come back will you stop and ask for the mail for me?"

We promised.

In the purple and amber light of a new day we were about, and soon
were on the road. By nightfall we had bidden the desert a glad
farewell, and had camped on a large stream among trees. How glad we
were to see so much water and such big cottonwoods! Mr. and Mrs.
Burney were within a day's drive of home, so they left us. This camp
is at Newfork, and our party has four new members: a doctor, a
moving-picture man, and two geological fellows. They have gone on, but
we will join them soon.

Just across the creek from us is the cabin of a new settler. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy and I slept together last night,--only we couldn't sleep
for the continual, whining cry of a sick baby at the cabin. So after a
while we rose and dressed and crossed over to see if we could be of
any help. We found a woefully distressed young couple. Their first
child, about a year old, was very sick. They didn't know what to do
for it; and she was afraid to stay alone while he went for help.

They were powerfully glad to see us, and the young father left at
once to get Grandma Mortimer, a neighborhood godsend such as most
Western communities have one of. We busied ourselves relieving the
young mother as much as we could. She wouldn't leave the baby and lie
down. The child is teething and had convulsions. We put it into a hot
bath and held the convulsions in check until Mrs. Mortimer came. She
bustled in and took hold in a way to insure confidence. She had not
been there long before she had both parents in bed, "saving themselves
for to-morrow," and was gently rubbing the hot little body of the
baby. She kept giving it warm tea she had made of herbs, until soon
the threatening jerks were over, the peevish whining ceased, and the
child slept peacefully on Grandma's lap. I watched her, fascinated.
There was never a bit of faltering, no indecision; everything she did
seemed exactly what she ought to do.

"How did you learn it all?" I asked her. "How can you know just what
to do, and then have the courage to do it? I should be afraid of
doing the wrong thing."

"Why," she said, "that is easy. Just do the very best you can and
trust God for the rest. After all, it is God who saves the baby, not
us and not our efforts; but we can help. He lets us do that. Lots of
times the good we do goes beyond any medicine. Never be afraid to
_help_ your best. I have been doing that for forty years and I am
going to keep it up till I die."

Then she told us story after story--told us how her different
ambitions had "boosted" her along, had made her swim when she just
wanted to float. "I was married when I was sixteen, and of course, my
first ambition was to own a home for Dave. My man was poor. He had a
horse, and his folks gave him another. My father gave me a heifer, and
mother fitted me out with a bed. That was counted a pretty good start
then, but we would have married even if we hadn't had one thing. Being
young we were over-hopeful. We both took to work like a duck to
water. Some years it looked as if we were going to see every dream
come true. Another time and we would be poorer than at first. One year
the hail destroyed everything; another time the flood carried away all
we had.

"When little Dave was eleven years old, he had learned to plough.
Every one of us was working to our limit that year. I ploughed and
hoed, both, and big Dave really hardly took time to sleep. You see,
his idea was that we must do better by our children than we had been
done by, and Fanny, our eldest, was thirteen. Big Dave thought all
girls married at sixteen because his mother did, and so did I; so that
spring he said, 'In just three years Fanny will be leaving us and we
_must_ do right by her. I wanted powerfully bad that _you_ should have
a blue silk wedding dress, mother, but of course it couldn't be had,
and you looked as pretty as a rose in your pink lawn. But I've always
wanted you to have a blue silk. As you can't have it, let us get it
for Fanny; and of course we must have everything else according.' And
so we worked mighty hard.

"Little Dave begged to be allowed to plough. Every other boy in the
neighborhood did,--some of them younger than he,--but somehow I didn't
want him to. One of our neighbors had been sick a lot that year and
his crops were about ruined. It was laying-by time and we had finished
laying by our crops--all but about half a day's ploughing in the corn.
That morning at breakfast, big Dave said he would take the horses and
go over to Henry Boles's and plough that day to help out,--said he
could finish ours any time, and it didn't matter much if it didn't get
ploughed. He told the children to lay off that day and go fishing and
berrying. So he went to harness his team, and little Dave went to help
him. Fanny and I went to milk, and all the time I could hear little
Dave begging his father to let him finish the ploughing. His father
said he could if I said so.

"I will never forget his eager little face as he began on me. He had a
heap of freckles; I remember noticing them that morning; he was
barefooted, and I remember that one toe was skinned. Big Dave was
lighting his pipe, and till to-day I remember how he looked as he held
the match to his pipe, drew a puff of smoke, and said, 'Say yes,
mother.' So I said yes, and little Dave ran to open the gate for his
father.

"As big Dave rode through the gate, our boy caught him by the leg and
said, 'I just _love_ you, daddy.' Big Dave bent down and kissed him,
and said, 'You're a _man_, son.' How proud that made the little
fellow! Parents should praise their children more; the little things
work hard for a few words of praise, and many of them never get their
pay.

"Well, the little fellow would have no help to harness his mule; so
Fanny and I went to the house, and Fanny said, 'We ought to cook an
extra good dinner to celebrate Davie's first ploughing. I'll go down
in the pasture and gather some blackberries if you will make a
cobbler.'

"She was gone all morning. About ten o'clock, I took a pail of fresh
water down to the field. I knew Davie would be thirsty, and I was
uneasy about him, but he was all right. He pushed his ragged old hat
back and wiped the sweat from his brow just as his father would have
done. I petted him a little, but he was so mannish he didn't want me
to pet him any more. After he drank, he took up his lines again, and
said, 'Just watch me, mother; see how I can plough.' I told him that
we were going to have chicken and dumplings for dinner, and that he
must sit in his father's place and help us to berry-cobbler. As he had
only a few more rows to plough, I went back, telling myself how
foolish I had been to be afraid.

"Twelve o'clock came, but not Davie. I sent Fanny to the spring for
the buttermilk and waited a while, thinking little Dave had not
finished as soon as he had expected. I went to the field. Little Dave
lay on his face in the furrow. I gathered him up in my arms; he was
yet alive; he put one weak little arm around my neck, and said, 'Oh,
mammy, I'm hurt. The mule kicked me in the stomach.'

"I don't know how I got to the house with him; I stumbled over clods
and weeds, through the hot sunshine. I sank down on the porch in the
shade, with the precious little form clasped tightly to me. He smiled,
and tried to speak, but the blood gurgled up into his throat and my
little boy was gone.

"I would have died of grief if I hadn't had to work so hard. Big Dave
got too warm at work that day, and when Fanny went for him and told
him about little Dave, he ran all the way home; he was crazy with
grief and forgot the horses. The trouble and the heat and the overwork
brought on a fever. I had no time for tears for three months, and by
that time my heart was hardened against my Maker. I got deeper in the
rut of work, but I had given up my ambition for a home of my own; all
I wanted to do was to work so hard that I could not think of the
little grave on which the leaves were falling. I wanted, too, to save
enough money to mark the precious spot, and then I wanted to leave.
But first one thing and then another took every dollar we made for
three years.

"One morning big Dave looked so worn out and pale that I said, 'I am
going to get out of here; I am not going to stay here and bury _you_,
Dave. Sunrise to-morrow will see us on the road West. We have worked
for eighteen years as hard as we knew how, and have given up my boy
besides; and now we can't even afford to mark his grave decently. It
is time we left.'

"Big Dave went back to bed, and I went out and sold what we had. It
was so little that it didn't take long to sell it. That was years ago.
We came West. The country was really wild then; there was a great
deal of lawlessness. We didn't get settled down for several years; we
hired to a man who had a contract to put up hay for the government,
and we worked for him for a long time.

"Indians were thick as fleas on a dog then; some were camped near
us once, and among them was a Mexican woman who could jabber a
little English. Once, when I was feeling particularly resentful and
sorrowful, I told her about my little Dave; and it was her jabbered
words that showed me the way to peace. I wept for hours, but peace had
come and has stayed. Ambition came again, but a different kind: I
wanted the same peace to come to all hearts that came so late to mine,
and I wanted to help bring it. I took the only course I knew. I have
gone to others' help every time there has been a chance. After Fanny
married and Dave died, I had an ambition to save up four hundred
dollars with which to buy an entrance into an old ladies' home. Just
before I got the full amount saved up, I found that young Eddie
Carwell wanted to enter the ministry and needed help to go to college.
I had just enough; so I gave it to him. Another time I had almost
enough, when Charlie Rucker got into trouble over some mortgage
business; so I used what I had that time to help him. Now I've given
up the old ladies' home idea and am saving up for the blue silk dress
Dave would have liked me to have. I guess I'll die some day and I want
it to be buried in. I like to think I'm going to my two Daves then;
and it won't be hard,--especially if I have the blue silk on."

Just then a sleepy little bird twittered outside, and the baby stirred
a little. The first faint light of dawn was just creeping up the
valley. I rose and said I must get back to camp. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
and I had both wept with Mrs. Mortimer over little Dave. We have all
given up our first-born little man-child; so we felt near each other.
We told Mrs. Mortimer that we had passed under the rod also. I kissed
her toilworn old hands, and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy dropped a kiss on her
old gray head as we passed out into the rose-and-gold morning. We felt
that we were leaving a sanctified presence, and we are both of us
better and humbler women because we met a woman who has buried her
sorrow beneath faith and endeavor.

This doesn't seem much like a letter, does it? When I started on this
trip, I resolved that you should have just as much of the trip as I
could give you. I didn't know we would be so long getting to the
hunting-ground, and I felt you would _like_ to know of the people we
meet. Perhaps my next letter will not be so tame. The hunting season
opens to-morrow, but we are several days' travel from the elk yet.

Elizabeth behaves queerly. She doesn't want to go on, stay here, or go
back. I am perfectly mystified. So far she has not told us a thing,
and we don't know to whom she is going or anything about it. She is a
likable little lady, and I sincerely hope she knows what she is
doing. It is bedtime and I must stop writing. We go on to-morrow.

                         With affectionate regards,
                              ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



V

DANYUL AND HIS MOTHER


                              IN CAMP ON THE GROS VENTRE,
                                   September 6, 1914.

MY DEAR FRIEND,--

I have neglected you for almost a week, but when you read this letter
and learn why, I feel sure you will forgive me.

To begin with, we bade Mrs. Mortimer good-bye, and started out to find
better fishing than the pretty little stream we were on afforded us.
Our way lay up Green River and we were getting nearer our final
camp-ground all the time, but we were in no hurry to begin hunting, so
we were just loitering along. There were a great many little lakes
along the valley, and thousands of duck. Mr. Stewart was driving, but
as he wanted to shoot ducks, I took the lines and drove along. There
is so much that is beautiful, and I was trying so hard to see it all,
that I took the wrong road; but none of us noticed it at first, and
then we didn't think it worth while to turn back.

The road we were on had lain along the foothills, but when I first
thought I had missed the right road we were coming down into a grassy
valley. Mr. Stewart came across a marshy stretch of meadow and climbed
up on the wagon. The ground was more level, and on every side were
marshes and pools; the willows grew higher here so that we couldn't
see far ahead. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was behind, and she called out,
"Say, I believe we are off the road." Elizabeth said she had noticed a
road winding off on our right; so we agreed that I must have taken the
wrong one, but as we couldn't turn in the willows, we had to go on.
Soon we reached higher, drier ground and passed through a yellow grove
of quaking asp.

A man came along with an axe on his shoulder, and Mr. Stewart asked
him about the road. "Yes," he said, "you are off the main road, but
on a better. You'll cross the same stream you were going to camp on,
right at my ranch. It is just a little way across here and it's almost
sundown, so I will show you the way."

He strode along ahead. We drove through an avenue of great dark
pines and across a log bridge that spanned a noisy, brawling stream.
The man opened a set of bars and we drove into a big clean corral.
Comfortable sheds and stables lined one side, and big stacks of hay
were conveniently placed. He began to help unharness the teams, saying
that they might just as well run in his meadow, as he was through
haying; then the horses would be safe while we fished. He insisted
on our stopping in his cabin, which we found to be a comfortable
two-room affair with a veranda the whole length. The _biggest_ pines
overshadowed the house; just behind it was a garden, in which some
late vegetables were still growing. The air was rather frosty and some
worried hens were trying hard to cover some chirping half-feathered
chicks.

It was such a homey place that we felt welcome and perfectly
comfortable at once. The inside of the house will not be hard to
describe. It was clean as could be, but with a typical bachelor's
cleanliness: there was no dirt, but a great deal of disorder. Across
the head of the iron bed was hung a miscellany of socks, neckties, and
suspenders. A discouraging assortment of boots, shoes, and leggings
protruded from beneath the bed. Some calendars ornamented the wall,
and upon a table stood a smoky lamp and some tobacco and a smelly
pipe. On a rack over the door lay a rifle.

Pretty soon our host came bustling in and exclaimed, "The kitchen is
more pleasant than this room and there's a fire there, too." Then,
catching sight of his lamp, he picked it up hurriedly and said, "Jest
as shore as I leave anything undone, that shore somebody comes and
sees how slouchy I am. Come on into the kitchen where you can warm,
and I'll clean this lamp. One of the cows was sick this morning; I
hurried over things so as to doctor her, and I forgot the lamp. I
smoke and the lamp smokes to keep me company."

The kitchen would have delighted the heart of any one. Two great
windows, one in the east and one in the south, gave plenty of
sunlight. A shining new range and a fine assortment of vessels--which
were not all yet in their place--were in one corner. There was a slow
ticking clock up on a high shelf; near the door stood a homemade
wash-stand with a tin basin, and above it hung a long narrow mirror.
On the back of the door was a towel-rack. The floor was made of white
pine and was spotlessly clean. In the center of the room stood the
table, with a cover of red oilcloth. Some chairs were placed about the
table, but our host quickly hauled them out for us. He opened his
storeroom and told us to "dish in dirty-face," and help ourselves to
anything we wanted, because we were to be his "somebody come" for that
night; then he hurried out to help with the teams again. He was so
friendly and so likeable that we didn't feel a bit backward about
"dishin' in," and it was not long before we had a smoking supper on
the table.

While we were at supper he said, "I wonder, now, if any of you women
can make aprons and bonnets. I don't mean them dinky little things
like they make now, but rale wearin' things like they used to make."

I was afraid of another advertisement romance and didn't reply, but
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy said, "Indade we can, none better."

Then he answered, "I want a blue chambray bonnet and a bunch of aprons
made for my mother. She is on the way here from Pennsylvania. I ain't
seen her for fifteen years. I left home longer 'n that ago, but I
remember everything,--just how everything looked,--and I'd like to
have things inside the house as nearly like home as I can, anyway."

I didn't know how long we could stop there, so I still made no
promises, but Mrs. O'Shaughnessy could easily answer every question
for a dozen women.

"Have you the cloth?" she asked.

Yes, he said; he had had it for a long time, but he had not had it
sewn because he had not been sure mother _could_ come.

"What's your name?" asked Mrs. O'Shaughnessy.

He hesitated a moment, then said, "Daniel Holt."

I wondered why he hesitated, but forgot all about it when Clyde said
we would stop there for a few days, if we wanted to help Mr. Holt.
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's mind was already made up. Elizabeth said she
would be glad to help, and I was not long in deciding when Daniel
said, "I'll take it as a rale friendly favor if you women could help,
because mother ain't had what could rightly be called a home since I
left home. She's crippled, too, and I want to do all I can. I know
she'd just like to have some aprons and a sunbonnet."

His eyes had such a pathetic, appealing look that I was ashamed, and
we at once began planning our work. Daniel helped with the dishes and
as soon as they were done brought out his cloth. He had a heap of
it,--a bolt of checked gingham, enough blue chambray for half a dozen
bonnets, and a great many remnants which he said he had bought from
peddlers from time to time. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy selected what she said
we would begin on, and dampened it so as to shrink it by morning. We
then spread our beds and made ready for an early start next day.

Next morning we ate breakfast by the light of the lamp that smoked for
the sake of companionship, and then started to cut out our work.
Daniel and Mr. Stewart went fishing, and we packed their lunch so as
to have them out of the way all day. I undertook the making of the
bonnet, because I knew how, and because I can remember the kind my
mother wore; I reckoned Daniel's mother would have worn about the
same style. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Elizabeth can both cross-stitch, so
they went out to Daniel's granary and ripped up some grain-bags, in
order to get the thread with which they were sewed, to work one apron
in cross-stitch.

But when we were ready to sew we were dismayed, for there was no
machine. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, however, was of the opinion that _some
one_ in the country must have a sewing machine, so she saddled a horse
and went out, she said, to "beat the brush."

She was hardly out of sight before a man rode up and said there had
been a telephone message saying that Mrs. Holt had arrived in Rock
Springs, and was on her way as far as Newfork in an automobile. That
threw Elizabeth and myself into a panic. We posted the messenger off
on a hunt for Daniel. Elizabeth soon got over her flurry and went at
her cross-stitching. I hardly knew what to do, but acting from force
of habit, I reckon, I began cleaning. A powerfully good way to reason
out things sometimes is to work; and just then I had to work. I began
on the storeroom, which was well lighted and which was also used as a
pantry. As soon as I began straightening up I began to wonder where
the mother would sleep. By arranging things in the storeroom a little
differently, I was able to make room for a bed and a trunk. I decided
on putting Daniel there; so then I began work in earnest. Elizabeth
laid down her work and helped me. We tacked white cheesecloth over the
wall, and although the floor was clean, we scrubbed it to freshen it.
We polished the window until it sparkled. We were right in the middle
of our work when Mrs. O'Shaughnessy came, and Daniel with her.

They were all excitement, but Mrs. O'Shaughnessy is a real general
and soon marshaled her forces. Daniel had to go to Newfork after his
mother; that would take three days. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy pointed out
to him the need of a few pieces of furniture; so he took a wagon and
team, which he got a neighbor to drive, while he took another team
and a buggy for his mother. Newfork is a day's drive beyond Pinedale,
and the necessary furniture could be had in Pinedale; so the neighbor
went along and brought back a new bed, a rocker, and some rugs. But
of course he had to stay overnight. I was for keeping right on
house-cleaning; but as Mrs. O'Shaughnessy had arranged for us all to
come and sew that afternoon at a near-by house, we took our sewing and
clambered into the buckboard and set out.

We found Mrs. Bonham a pleasant little woman whose husband had earned
her pretty new machine by chewing tobacco. I reckon you think that is
a mighty funny method of earning anything, but some tobacco has tags
which are redeemable, and the machine was one of the premiums. Mrs.
Bonham just beamed with pride as she rolled out her machine. "I never
had a machine before," she explained. "I just went to the neighbors'
when I had to sew. So of course I wanted a machine awfully bad. So
Frank jest chawed and chawed, and I saved every tag till we got
enough, and last year we got the machine. Frank is chawin' out a clock
now; but that won't take him so long as the machine did."

Well, the "chawed-out" machine did splendidly, and we turned out
some good work that afternoon. I completed the blue bonnet which was
to be used as "best," and made a "splint" bonnet. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
and Elizabeth did well on their aprons. We took turns about at the
machine and not a minute was wasted. Mrs. Bonham showed us some crochet
lace which she said she hoped to sell; and right at once Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy's fertile mind begin to hatch plans. She would make Mrs.
Holt a "Sunday apron," she said, and she bought the lace to trim it
with. I thought Mrs. Holt must be an old-fashioned lady who liked
pillow-shams. Mrs. Bonham had a pretty pair she was willing to sell.
On one was worked, "Good Morning"; on the other, "Good Night"; it was
done with red cotton. The shams had a dainty edge of homemade lace.
Elizabeth would not be outdone; she purchased a star quilt pieced in
red and white. At sundown we went home. We were all tired, but as soon
as supper was over we went to work again. We took down the bed and set
it up in Dan's new quarters, and we made such headway on what had been
his bedroom that we knew we could finish in a little while next day.

The next morning, as soon as we had breakfasted, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
and Elizabeth went back to sew, taking with them a lot of white
cheesecloth for lining for the bedroom we were preparing for Mrs.
Holt. Mr. Stewart had had fine luck fishing, but he said he felt plumb
left out with so much bustling about and he not helping. He is very
handy with a saw and hammer, and he contrived what we called a "chist
of drawers," for Daniel's room. The "chist" had only one drawer; into
that we put all the gloves, ties, handkerchiefs, and suspenders, and
on the shelves below we put his shoes and boots. Then I made a blue
curtain for the "chist" and one for the window, and the room looked
plumb nice, I can tell you. I liked the "chist" so well that I asked
Mr. Stewart to make something of the kind for Mrs. Holt's room. He
said there wouldn't be time, but he went to work on it.

Promptly at noon Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Elizabeth came with the lining
for the room. We worked like beavers, and had the room sweet and ready
by mid-afternoon, when the man came from Pinedale with the new
furniture. In just a little while we had the room in perfect order:
the bed nicely made with soft, new blankets for sheets; the pretty
star quilt on, and the nice, clean pillows protected by the shams.
They could buy no rugs, but a weaver of rag carpets in Pinedale had
some pieces of carpet which Daniel sent back to us. They were really
better and greatly more in keeping. We were very proud of the pretty
white and red room when we were through. Only the kitchen was left,
but we decided we could clean that early next day; so we sat down to
sew and to plan the next day's dinner. We could hear Mr. Stewart out
in the barn hammering and sawing on the "chist."

While we were debating whether to have fried chicken or trout for
dinner, two little girls, both on one horse, rode up. They entered
shyly, and after carefully explaining to us that they had heard that a
wagon-load of women were buying everything they could see, had run Mr.
Holt off, and were living in his house, they told us they had come to
sell us some blueing. When they got two dollars' worth sold, the
blueing company would send them a big doll; so, please, would we buy a
lot?

We didn't think we could use any blueing, but we hated to disappoint
the little things. We talked along, and presently they told us of
their mother's flowers. Daniel had told us his mother _always_ had a
red flower in her kitchen window. When the little girls assured us
their mother had a red geranium in bloom, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy set out
to get it; and about dark she returned with a beautiful plant just
beginning to bloom. We were all as happy as children; we had all
worked very hard, too. Mr. Stewart said we deserved no sympathy
because we cleaned a perfectly clean house; but, anyway, we felt much
better for having gone over it.

The "chist" was finished early next morning. It would have looked
better, perhaps, if it had had a little paint, but as we had no paint
and were short of time, we persuaded ourselves it looked beautiful
with only its clean, pretty curtain. We didn't make many changes in
the kitchen. All we did was to take down the mirror and turn it
lengthways above the mantel-shelf over the fireplace. We put the new
rocker in the bright, sunny corner, where it would be easier for dim
old eyes to see to read or sew. We set the geranium on the broad clean
sill of the window, and I think you would have agreed with us that it
was a cozy, cheerful home to come to after fifteen years of lonely
homelessness. We couldn't get the dinner question settled, so we
"dished in dirty-face"; each cooked what she thought best. Like
Samantha Ann Allen, we had "everything good and plenty of it."

Elizabeth took a real interest and worked well. She is the _dearest_
girl and would be a precious daughter to some mother. She has not yet
told us anything about herself. All we know is, she taught school
somewhere in the East. She was a little surprised at the way we took
possession of a stranger's home, but she enjoyed it as much as we. "It
is so nice to be doing something for some one again, something real
homey and family-like," she remarked as she laid the table for dinner.

We had dinner almost ready when we heard the wheels crossing the mossy
log bridge. We raced to let down the bars. Beside Daniel sat a dear
dumpy little woman, her head very much bundled up with a lot of old
black veils. Daniel drove through the corral, into the yard, and
right up to the door. He helped her out _so_ gently. She kept
admonishing him, "Careful, Danyul, careful." He handed out her crutch
and helped her into the kitchen, where she sank, panting, into the
rocker. "It is my leg," she explained; "it has been that way ever
since Danyul was a baby." Then she pleaded, "Careful, careful," to
Elizabeth, who was tenderly unwrapping her. "I wouldn't have anything
happen to this brown alapacky for anything; it is my very best, and
I've had it ever since before I went to the pore farm; but I wanted to
look nice for Danyul, comin' to his home for the first time an' all."

We had the happiest dinner party I ever remember. It would be
powerfully hard for me to say which was happier, "Danyul" or his
mother. They just beamed upon each other. She was proud of her boy and
his pleasant home. "Danyul says he's got a little red heifer for me
and he's got ten cows of his own. Now ain't that fine? It is a pity we
can't have a few apple trees,--a little orchard. We'd live like
kings, we would that." We explained to her how we got our fruit by
parcel post, and Danyul said he would order his winter supply of
apples at once.

As soon as dinner was over, Danyul had to mend a fence so as to keep
his cattle in their own pasture. Mr. Stewart went to help and we women
were left alone. We improved the time well. Mrs. Holt would not lie
down and rest, as we tried to persuade her to, but hobbled about,
admiring everything. She was delighted with the big, clean cellar
and its orderly bins, in which Danyul was beginning to store his
vegetables. She was as pleased as a child with her room, and almost
wept when we told her which were "welcoming presents" from us. She was
particularly delighted with her red flower, and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
will be happy for days remembering it was she who gave it. I shall be
happy longer than that remembering how tickled she was with her
bonnets.

She wanted to wipe the dishes, so she and I did up the dishes while
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Elizabeth put some finishing stitches in on
their aprons. She sat on the highest seat we could find, and as she
deftly handled the dishes she told us this:--

"I should think you would wonder why Danyul ain't got me out of the
porehouse before now. I've been there more 'n ten years, but Danyul
didn't know it till a month ago. Charlotte Nash wrote him. Neither
Danyul nor me are any master-hand at writin', and then I didn't want
him to know anyhow. When Danyul got into trouble, I signed over the
little farm his pa left us, to pay the lawyer person to defend him.
Danyul had enough trouble, so he went to the penitentiary without
finding out I was homeless. I should think you would be put out to
know Danyul has been to the pen, but he has. He always said to me that
he never done what he was accused of, so I am not going to tell you
what it was. Danyul was always a good boy, honest and good to me and
a hard worker. I ain't got no call to doubt him when he says he's
innocent.

"Well, I fought his case the best I could, but he got ten years. Then
the lawyer person claimed the home an' all, so I went out to work, but
bein' crippled I found it hard. When Danyul had been gone four years I
had saved enough to buy my brown alapacky and go to see him. He looked
pale and sad,--afraid even to speak to his own mother. I went back to
work as broke up as Danyul, and that winter I come down with such a
long spell of sickness that they sent me to the pore farm. I always
wrote to Danyul on his birthday and I couldn't bear to let him know
where I was.

"Soon's his time was out, he come here; he couldn't bear the scorn
that he'd get at home, so he come out to this big, free West, and took
the chance it offers. Once he wrote and asked me if I would like to
live West. He said if I did, after he got a start I must sell out and
come to him. Bless his heart, all that time I was going to my meals
just when I was told to and eatin' just what I was helped to, going to
bed and getting up at some one else's word! Oh, it was bitter, but I
didn't want Danyul to taste it; so, when I didn't come, he thought I
didn't want to give up the old home, and didn't say no more about it.
Charlotte was on the pore farm too, until her cousin died and she got
left a home and enough to live on. Sometimes she would come out to the
farm and take me back with her for a little visit. She was good that
way. I never would tell her about Danyul; but this summer I was
helpin' her dry apples and somehow she jist coaxed the secret out. She
wrote to Danyul, and he wrote to me, and here I am. Danyul and me are
so happy that we are goin' to send a ticket back to the farm for
Maggie Harper. She ain't got no home and will be glad to help me and
get a rale home."

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Elizabeth debated what more was needed to make
the kitchen a bit more homey. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy said a red cushion
for the rocker, and Elizabeth said a white cat to lie on the hearth.
Mrs. Holt said, "Yes, I _do_ need 'em both,--only it must be an old
stray tabby cat. This house is going to be the shelter of the
homeless."

Well, I can't tell you any more about the Holts because we left next
morning. Danyul came across the bridge to bid us good-bye. He said he
could never thank us enough, but it is we who should be and are
thankful. We got a little glow of happiness from their great blaze. We
are all so glad to know that everything is secure and bright for the
Holts in the future.

That stop is the cause of my missing two letters to you, but this
letter is as long as half a dozen letters should be. You know I never
could get along with few words. I'll try to do better next time. But I
can't imagine how I shall get the letters mailed. We are miles and
miles and miles away in the mountains; it is two days' ride to a
post-office, so maybe I will not get letters to you as often as I
planned.

                         Sincerely yours,
                              ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



VI

ELIZABETH'S ROMANCE


                              CAMP CLOUDCREST,
                                   September 12, 1914.

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

I find I can't write to you as often as I at first intended; but I've
a chance to-day, so I will not let it pass unused. We are in the last
camp, right on the hunting ground, in the "midst of the fray." We have
said good-bye to dear Elizabeth, and I must tell you about her because
she really comes first.

To begin with, the morning we left the Holts, Elizabeth suggested that
we three women ride in the buckboard, so I seated myself on a roll of
bedding in the back part. At first none of us talked; we just absorbed
the wonderful green-gold beauty of the morning. The sky was clear
blue, with a few fleecy clouds drifting lazily past. The mountains on
one side were crested; great crags and piles of rock crowned them as
far as we could see; timber grew only about halfway up. The trunks of
the quaking aspens shone silvery in the early sunlight, and their
leaves were shimmering gold. And the stately pines kept whispering and
murmuring; it almost seemed as if they were chiding the quaking aspens
for being frivolous. On the other side of the road lay the river,
bordered by willows and grassy flats. There were many small lakes, and
the ducks and geese were noisily enjoying themselves among the rushes
and water-grasses. Beyond the river rose the forest-covered mountains,
hill upon hill.

Elizabeth dressed with especial care that morning, and very pretty she
looked in her neat shepherd's plaid suit and natty little white canvas
hat. Very soon she said, "I hope neither of you will misunderstand me
when I tell you that if my hopes are realized I will not ride with you
much longer. I never saw such a country as the West,--it is so big
and so beautiful,--and I never saw such people. You are just like your
country; you have fed me, cared for me, and befriended me, a stranger,
and never asked me a word."

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy said, "Tut, tut, 'tis nothing at all we've done.
'Tis a comfort you've been, hasn't she, Mrs. Stewart?"

I could heartily agree; and Elizabeth went on, "The way I have been
received and the way we all treated Mrs. Holt will be the greatest
help to me in becoming what I hope to become, a real Westerner. I
might have lived a long time in the West and not have understood many
things if I had not fallen into your hands. Years ago, before I was
through school, I was to have been married; but I lost my mother just
then and was left the care of my paralytic father. If I had married
then, I should have had to take father from his familiar surroundings,
because Wallace came West in the forestry service. I felt that it
wouldn't be right. Poor father couldn't speak, but his eyes told me
how grateful he was to stay. We had our little home and father had
his pension, and I was able to get a small school near us. I could
take care of father and teach also. We were very comfortably situated,
and in time became really happy. Although I seldom heard from Wallace,
his letters were well worth waiting for, and I knew he was doing well.

"Eighteen months ago father died,--gently went to sleep. I waited six
months and then wrote to Wallace, but received no reply. I have
written him three times and have had no word. I could bear it no
longer and have come to see what has become of him. If he is dead, may
I stay on with one of you and perhaps get a school? I want to live
here always."

"But, darlint," said Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, "supposin' it's married your
man is?"

"Wallace may have changed his mind about me, but he would not marry
without telling me. If he is alive he is honorable."

Then I asked, "Why didn't you ask about him at Pinedale or any of
these places we have passed? If he is stationed in the Bridges reserve
they would be sure to know of him at any of these little places."

"I just didn't have the courage to. I should never have told you what
I have, only I think I owe it to you, and it was easier because of the
Holts. I am so glad we met them."

So we drove along, talking together; we each assured the girl of our
entire willingness to have her as a member of the family. After a
while I got on to the wagon with Mr. Stewart and told him Elizabeth's
story so that he could inquire about the man. Soon we came to the
crossing on Green River. Just beyond the ford we could see the
game-warden's cabin, with the stars and stripes fluttering gayly in
the fresh morning breeze. We drove into the roaring, dashing water,
and we held our breath until we emerged on the other side.

Mr. Sorenson is a very capable and conscientious game-warden and
a very genial gentleman. He rode down to meet us, to inspect our
license and to tell us about our privileges and our duties as good
woodsmen. He also issues licenses in case hunters have neglected to
secure them before coming. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy had refused to get a
license when we did. She said she was not going to hunt; she told us
we could give her a small piece of "ilk" and that would do; so we were
rather surprised when she purchased two licenses, one a special, which
would entitle her to a bull elk. As we were starting Mr. Stewart asked
the game-warden, "Can you tell me if Wallace White is still stationed
here?" "Oh, yes," Mr. Sorenson said, "Wallace's place is only a few
miles up the river and can be plainly seen from the road."

We drove on. Happiness had taken a new clutch upon my heart. I looked
back, expecting to see Elizabeth all smiles, but if you will believe
me the foolish girl was sobbing as if her heart was broken. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy drew her head down upon her shoulder and was trying to
quiet her. The road along there was _very_ rough. Staying on the
wagon occupied all my attention for a while. Several miles were passed
when we came in sight of a beautiful cabin, half hidden in a grove of
pines beyond the river. Mr. Stewart said we might as well "noon" as
soon as we came to a good place, and then he would ride across and see
Mr. White.

Just as we rounded the hill a horseman came toward us. A splendid
fellow he was, manly strength and grace showing in every line. The
road was narrow against the hillside and he had to ride quite close,
so I saw his handsome face plainly. As soon as he saw Elizabeth he
sprang from his saddle and said, "'Liz'beth, 'Liz'beth, what you doin'
here?"

She held her hands to him and said, "Oh, just riding with friends."
Then to Mrs. O'Shaughnessy she said, "_This_ is my Wallace."

Mr. Stewart is the queerest man: instead of letting me enjoy the
tableau, he solemnly drove on, saying he would not want any one
gawking at him if he were the happy man. Anyway, he couldn't urge
Chub fast enough to prevent my seeing and hearing what I've told you.
Besides that, I saw that Elizabeth's hat was on awry, her hair in
disorder, and her eyes red. It was disappointing after she had been so
careful to look nicely.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy came trotting along and we stopped for dinner. We
had just got the coffee boiling when the lovers came up, Elizabeth in
the saddle, "learning to ride," and he walking beside her holding her
hand. How happy they were! The rest of us were mighty near as foolish
as they. They were going to start immediately after dinner, on
horseback, for the county seat, to be married. After we had eaten,
Elizabeth selected a few things from her trunk, and Mr. Stewart and
Mr. White drove the buckboard across the river to leave the trunk in
its new home. While they were gone we helped Elizabeth to dress. All
the while Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was admonishing her to name her first
"girul" Mary Ellen; "or," she said, "if yer first girul happens to be
a b'y, it's Sheridan ye'll be callin' him, which was me name before I
was married to me man, God rest his soul."

Dear Elizabeth, she was glad to get away, I suspect! She and her
Wallace made a fine couple as they rode away in the golden September
afternoon. I believe she is _one_ happy bride that the sun shone on,
if the omen has failed _everywhere_ else.

Well, we felt powerfully reduced in numbers, but about three o'clock
that afternoon we came upon Mr. Struble and Mr. Haynes waiting beside
the road for us. They had come to pilot us into camp, for there would
be no road soon.

Such a way as we came over! Such jolting and sliding! I begged to get
off and walk; but as the whole way was carpeted by strawberry vines
and there were late berries to tempt me to loiter, I had to stay on
the wagon. I had no idea a wagon could be got across such places.

Mr. Struble drove for Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, and I could hear her
imploring all the saints to preserve us from instant death. I kept
shutting my eyes, trying not to see the terrifying places, and opening
them again to see the beauty spread everywhere, until Mr. Stewart
said, "It must make you nervous to ride over mountain roads. Don't bat
your eyes so fast and you'll see more." So then I stiffened my back
and kept my eyes open, and I _did_ see more.

It had been decided to go as far as we could with the wagons and then
set camp; from there the hunters would ride horseback as far up as
they could and then climb. It was almost sundown when we reached camp.
All the hunters were in, and such a yowling as they set up! "Look
who's here! See who's come!" they yelled. They went to work setting up
tents and unloading wagons with a hearty good-will.

We are camped just on the edge of the pines. Back of us rises a big
pine-clad mountain; our tents are set under some big trees, on a
small plateau, and right below us is a valley in which grass grows
knee high and little streams come from every way. Trout scurry up
stream whenever we go near. We call the valley Paradise Valley because
it is the horses' paradise. And as in the early morning we can often
see clouds rolling along the valley, we call our camp Cloudcrest. We
have a beautiful place: it is well sheltered; there is plenty of wood,
water, and feed; and, looking eastward down the valley, snow-covered,
crag-topped mountains delight the eye.

The air is so bracing that we all feel equal to _anything_. Mr.
Struble has already killed a fine "spike" elk for camp eating. We
camped in a bunch, and we have camp stoves so that in case of rain or
snow we can stay indoors. Just now we have a huge camp fire around
which we sit in the evening, telling stories, singing, and eating nuts
of the piñon pine. Then too the whole country is filled with those
tiny little strawberries. We have to gather all day to get as much as
we can eat, but they are delicious. Yesterday we had pie made of wild
currants; there are a powerful lot of them here. There is also a
little blueberry that the men say is the Rocky Mountain huckleberry.
The grouse are feeding on them. Altogether this is one of the most
delightful places imaginable. The men are not very anxious to begin
hunting. A little delay means cooler weather for the meat. It is cool
up here, but going back across the desert it will be warm for a while
yet. Still, when they see elk every day it is a great temptation to
try a shot.

One of the students told me Professor Glenholdt was here to get the
tip-end bone of the tail of a brontosaurus. I don't know what that is,
but if it is a fossil he won't get it, for the soil is too deep. The
students are jolly, likable fellows, but they can talk of nothing but
strata and formation. I heard one of them say he would be glad when
some one killed a bear, as he had heard they were fine eating, having
strata of fat alternating with strata of lean. Mr. Haynes is a quiet
fellow, just interested in hunting. Mr. Struble is the big man of the
party; he is tall and strong and we find him very pleasant company.
Then there is Dr. Teschall; he is a quiet fellow with an unexpected
smile. He is so reserved that I felt that he was kind of out of place
among the rest until I caught his cordial smile. He is so slight that
I don't see how he will stand the hard climbing, not to mention
carrying the heavy gun. They are using the largest caliber sporting
guns,--murderous-looking things. That is, all except Mr. Harkrudder,
the picture man. He looks to be about forty years old, but whoops and
laughs like he was about ten.

I don't need to tell you of the "good mon," do I? He is just the kind,
quiet good mon that he has always been since I have known him. A young
lady from a neighboring camp came over and said she had called to see
our _tout ensemble_. Well, I've given you it, they, us, or we.

We didn't need a guide, as Mr. Haynes and Mr. Struble are old-timers.
We were to have had a cook, but when we reached Pinedale, where we
were to have picked him up, he told Mr. Haynes he was "too tam seek
in de bel," so we had to come without him; but that is really no
inconvenience, since we are all very good cooks and are all willing
to help. I don't think I shall be able to tell you of any great
exploits I make with the gun. I fired one that Mr. Stewart carries,
and it almost kicked my shoulder off. I am mystified about Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy's license. I know she would not shoot one of those big
guns for a dozen elk; besides that, she is very tender-hearted and
will never harm anything herself, although she likes to join our
hunts.

I think you must be tired of this letter, so I am going to say
good-night, my friend.

                              E. R. S.



VII

THE HUNT


                              CAMP CLOUDCREST,
                                   October 6, 1914.


DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

It seems so odd to be writing you and getting no answers. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy just now asked me what I have against you that I write
you so much. I haven't one thing. I told her I owed you more love than
I could ever pay in a lifetime, and she said writing such _long_
letters is a mighty poor way to show it. I have been neglecting you
shamefully, I think. One of the main reasons I came on this hunt was
to take the trip for _you_, and to tell you things that you would most
enjoy. So I will spend this snowy day in writing to you.

On the night of September 30, there was the most awful thunderstorm
I ever witnessed,--flash after flash of the most blinding lightning,
followed by deafening peals of thunder; and as it echoed from mountain
to mountain the uproar was terrifying. I have always loved a storm;
the beat of hail and rain, and the roar of wind always appeal to me;
but there was neither wind nor rain,--just flash and roar. Before the
echo died away among the hills another booming report would seem to
shiver the atmosphere and set all our tinware jangling. We are camped
so near the great pines that I will confess I was powerfully afraid.
Had the lightning struck one of the big pines there would not have
been one of us left. I could hear Mrs. O'Shaughnessy murmuring her
prayers when there was a lull. We had gone to bed, but I couldn't
remain there; so I sat on the wagon-seat with Jerrine beside me.
Something struck the guy ropes of the tent, and I was so frightened
I was too weak to cry out. I thought the big tree must have fallen.
In the lulls of the storm I could hear the men's voices, high and
excited. They, too, were up. It seemed to me that the storm lasted
for hours; but at last it moved off up the valley, the flashes grew to
be a mere glimmer, and the thunder mere rumbling. The pines began to
moan, and soon a little breeze whistled by. So we lay down again. Next
morning the horses could not be found; the storm had frightened them,
and they had tried to go home. The men had to find them, and as it
took most of the day, we had to put off our hunt.

We were up and about next morning in the first faint gray light. While
the men fed grain to the horses and saddled them, we prepared a hasty
breakfast. We were off before it was more than light enough for us to
see the trail.

Dawn in the mountains--how I wish I could describe it to you! If I
could only make you feel the keen, bracing air, the exhilarating
climb; if I could only paint its beauties, what a picture you should
have! Here the colors are very different from those of the desert. I
suppose the forest makes it so. The shadows are mellow, like the
colors in an old picture--greenish amber light and a blue-gray sky.
Far ahead of us we could see the red rim rock of a mountain above
timber line. The first rays of the sun turned the jagged peaks into
golden points of a crown. In Oklahoma, at that hour of the day, the
woods would be alive with song-birds, even at this season; but here
there are no song-birds, and only the snapping of twigs, as our horses
climbed the frosty trail, broke the silence. We had been cautioned not
to talk, but neither Mrs. O'Shaughnessy nor I wanted to. Afterwards,
when we compared notes, we found that we both had the same thought: we
both felt ashamed to be out to deal death to one of the Maker's
beautiful creatures, and we were planning how we might avoid it.

The sun was well up when we reached the little park where we picketed
our horses. Then came a long, hard climb. It is hard climbing at the
best, and when there is a big gun to carry, it is _very_ hard. Then
too, we had to keep up with the men, and we didn't find that easy to
do. At last we reached the top and sat down on some boulders to rest a
few minutes before we started down to the hunting ground, which lay in
a cuplike valley far below us.

We could hear the roar of the Gros Ventre as it tumbled grumblingly
over its rocky bed. To our right rose mile after mile of red cliffs.
As the last of the quaking asp leaves have fallen, there were no
golden groves. In their places stood silvery patches against the red
background of the cliffs. High overhead a triangle of wild geese
harrowed the blue sky.

I was plumb out of breath, but men who are most gallant elsewhere are
absolutely heartless on a hunt. I was scarcely through panting before
we began to descend. We received instructions as to how we should move
so as to keep out of range of each other's guns; then Mr. Haynes and
myself started one way, and Mr. Struble and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy the
other. We were to meet where the valley terminated in a broad pass. We
felt sure we could get a chance at what elk there might be in the
valley. We were following fresh tracks, and a little of the hunter's
enthusiasm seized me.

We had not followed them far when three cows and a "spike" came
running out of the pines a little ahead of us. Instantly Mr. Haynes's
gun flew to his shoulder and a deafening report jarred our ears. He
ran forward, but I stood still, fascinated by what I saw. Our side of
the valley was bounded by a rim of rock. Over the rim was a sheer wall
of rock for two hundred feet, to where the Gros Ventre was angrily
roaring below; on the other side of the stream rose the red cliffs
with their jagged crags. At the report of the gun two huge blocks of
stone almost as large as a house detached themselves and fell. At the
same instant one of the quaking asp groves began to move slowly. I
couldn't believe my eyes. I shut them a moment, but when I looked the
grove was moving faster. It slid swiftly, and I could plainly hear the
rattle of stones falling against stones, until with a muffled roar the
whole hillside fell into the stream.

Mr. Haynes came running back. "What is the matter? Are you hurt? Why
didn't you shoot?" he asked.

I waved my hand weakly toward where the great mound of tangled
trees and earth blocked the water. "Why," he said, "that is only a
landslide, not an earthquake. You are as white as a ghost. Come on up
here and see my fine elk."

I sat on a log watching him dress his elk. We have found it best not
to remove the skin, but the elk have to be quartered so as to load
them on to a horse. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Mr. Struble came out of the
woods just then. They had seen a big bunch of elk headed by a splendid
bull, but got no shot, and the elk went out of the pass. They had
heard our shot, and came across to see what luck.

"What iver is the matter with ye?" asked Mrs. O'Shaughnessy. Mr.
Haynes told her. They had heard the noise, but had thought it thunder.
Mr. Haynes told me that if I would "chirk up" he would give me his elk
teeth. Though I don't admire them, they are considered valuable;
however, his elk was a cow, and they don't have as nice teeth as do
bulls.

We had lunch, and the men covered the elk with pine boughs to keep the
camp robbers from pecking it full of holes. Next day the men would
come with the horses and pack it in to camp. We all felt refreshed; so
we started on the trail of those that got away.

For a while walking was easy and we made pretty good time; then we had
a rocky hill to get over. We had to use care when we got into the
timber; there were marshy places which tried us sorely, and windfall
so thick that we could hardly get through. We were obliged to pick our
way carefully to avoid noise, and we were all together, not having
come to a place where it seemed better to separate. We had about
resolved to go to our horses when we heard a volley of shots.

"That is somebody bunch-shooting," said Mr. Struble. "They are in
Brewster Lake Park, by the sound. That means that the elk will pass
here in a short time and we may get a shot. The elk will be here long
before the men, since the men have no horses; so let's hurry and get
placed along the only place they can get out. We'll get our limit."

We hastily secreted ourselves along the narrow gorge through which the
elk must pass. We were all on one side, and Mr. Haynes said to me,
"Rest your gun on that rock and aim at the first rib back of the
shoulder. If you shoot haphazard you may cripple an elk and let it get
away to die in misery. So make sure when you fire."

It didn't seem a minute before we heard the beat of their hoofs and a
queer panting noise that I can't describe. First came a beautiful
thing with his head held high; his great antlers seemed to lie half
his length on his back; his eyes were startled, and his shining black
mane seemed to bristle. I heard the report of guns, and he tumbled in
a confused heap. He tried to rise, but others coming leaped over him
and knocked him down. Some more shots, and those behind turned and
went back the way they had come.

Mr. Haynes shouted to me, "Shoot, shoot; why _don't_ you shoot!"

So I fired my Krag, but next I found myself picking myself up and
wondering who had struck me and for what. I was so dizzy I could
scarcely move, but I got down to where the others were excitedly
admiring the two dead elk that they said were the victims of Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy's gun. She was as excited and delighted as if she had
never declared she would not kill anything. "Sure, it's many a meal
they'll make for little hungry mouths," she said. She was rubbing her
shoulder ruefully. "I don't want to fire any more big guns. I thought
old Goliar had hit me a biff with a blackthorn shilaley," she
remarked.

Mr. Haynes turned to me and said, "You are a dandy hunter! you didn't
shoot at all until after the elk were gone, and the way you held your
gun it is a wonder it didn't knock your head off, instead of just
smashing your jaw."

The men worked as fast as they could at the elk, and we helped as much
as we could, but it was dark before we reached camp. Supper was ready,
but I went to bed at once. They all thought it was because I was so
disappointed, but it was because I was so stiff and sore I could
hardly move, and so tired I couldn't sleep. Next morning my jaw and
neck were so swollen that I hated any one to see me, and my head ached
for two days. It has been snowing for a long time, but Clyde says he
will take me hunting when it stops. I don't want to go but reckon I
will have to, because I don't want to come so far and buy a license to
kill an elk and go back empty-handed, and partly to get a rest from
Mr. Murry's everlasting accordion.

Mr. Murry is an old-time acquaintance of Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's. He has
a ranch down on the river somewhere. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy has not seen
him for years,--didn't know he lived up here. He had seen the
game-warden from whom she had procured her license, and so hunted up
our camp. He is an odd-looking individual, with sad eyes and a
drooping mouth which gives his face a most hopeless, reproachful
expression. His nose, however, seems to upset the original plan, for
it is long and thin and bent slightly to one side. His neck is long
and his Adam's apple seems uncertain as to where it belongs. At supper
Jerrine watched it as if fascinated until I sent her from the table
and went out to speak to her about gazing.

"Why, mamma," she said, "I had to look; he has swallowed something
that won't go either up or down, and I'm 'fraid he'll choke."

Although I can't brag about Mr. Murry's appearance, I can about his
taste, for he admires Mrs. O'Shaughnessy. It seems that in years gone
by he has made attempts to marry her.

As he got up from supper the first night he was with us, he said,
"Mary Ellen, I have a real treat and surprise for you. Just wait a few
minutes, an' I'll bet you'll be happy."

We took our accustomed places around the fire, while Mr. Murry hobbled
his cayuse and took an odd-looking bundle from his saddle. He seated
himself and took from the bundle--an accordion! He set it upon his
knee and began pulling and pushing on it. He did what Mr. Struble said
was doling a doleful tune. Every one took it good-naturedly, but he
kept doling the doleful until little by little the circle thinned.

Our tent is as comfortable as can be. Now that it is snowing, we sit
around the stoves, and we should have fine times if Professor
Glenholdt could have a chance to talk; but we have to listen to "Run,
Nigger, Run" and "The Old Gray Hoss Come A-tearin' Out The
Wilderness." I'll sing them to you when I come to Denver.

                              With much love to you,
                                   ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



VIII

THE SEVENTH MAN


                              CLOUDCREST, October 10, 1914.

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

I wonder what you would do if you were here. But I reckon I had better
not anticipate, and so I will begin at the beginning. On the morning
of the eighth we held a council. The physician and the two students
had gone. All had their limit of elk except Mr. Haynes and myself. Our
licenses also entitled each of us to a deer, a mountain sheep, and a
bear. We had plenty of food, but it had snowed about a foot and I was
beginning to want to get out while the going was good. Two other
outfits had gone out. The doctor and the students hired them to haul
out their game. So we decided to stay on a week longer.

That morning Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and I melted snow and washed the
clothes. It was delightful to have nice soft water, and we enjoyed our
work; it was almost noon before we thought to begin dinner. I suppose
you would say lunch, but with us it is dinner. None of the men had
gone out that day.

Mr. Harkrudder was busy with his films and didn't come with the rest
when dinner was ready. When he did come, he was excited; he laid a
picture on the table and said, "Do any of you recognize this?"

It looked like a flash-light of our camping ground. It was a little
blurry, but some of the objects were quite clear. Our tent was a white
blotch except for the outlines; the wagons showed plainly. I didn't
think much of it as a picture, so I paid scant attention. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy gave it close scrutiny; presently she said, "Oh, yis, I
see what it is. It's a puzzle picture and ye find the man. Here he is,
hidin' beyont the pine next the tent."

"Exactly," said Harkrudder, "but I had not expected just this. I am
working out some ideas of my own in photography, and this picture is
one of the experiments I tried the night of the storm. The result
doesn't prove my experiment either way. Where were you, Stewart,
during the storm?"

"Where should I be? I bided i' the bed," the Stewart said.

"Well," said Harkrudder, "I know where each of the other fellows was,
and none of them was in this direction. Now who is the seventh man?"

I looked again, and, sure enough, there was a man in a crouching
position outlined against the tent wall. We were all excited, for it
was ten minutes past one when Harkrudder was out, and we couldn't
think why any one would be prowling about our camp at that time of the
night.

As Mr. Stewart and I had planned a long, beautiful ride, we set
out after dinner, leaving the rest yet at the table eating and
conjecturing about the "stranger within our picture." I had hoped we
would come to ground level enough for a sharp, invigorating canter,
but our way was too rough. It was a joy to be out in the great, silent
forest. The snow made riding a little venturesome because the horses
slipped a great deal, but Chub is dependable even though he is lazy.
Clyde bestrode Mr. Haynes's Old Blue. We were headed for the cascades
on Clear Creek, to see the wonderful ice-caverns that the flying spray
is forming.

We had almost reached the cascades and were crossing a little
bowl-like valley, when an elk calf leaped out of the snow and ran a
few yards. It paused and finally came irresolutely back toward us. A
few steps farther we saw great, red splotches on the snow and the body
of a cow elk. Around it were the tracks of the faithful little calf.
It would stay by its mother until starvation or wild animals put an
end to its suffering. The cow was shot in half a dozen places, none of
them in a fatal spot; it had bled to death. "That," said Mr. Stewart
angrily, "comes o' bunch shooting. The authorities should revoke the
license of a man found guilty of bunch shooting."

We rode on in silence, each a little saddened by what we had seen. But
this was not all. We had begun to descend the mountain side to Clear
Creek when we came upon the beaten trail of a herd of elk. We followed
it as offering perhaps the safest descent. It didn't take us far.
Around the spur of the mountain the herd had stampeded; tracks were
everywhere. Lying in the trail were a spike and an old bull with a
broken antler. Chub shied, but Old Blue doesn't scare, so Mr. Stewart
rode up quite close. Around the heads were tell-tale tracks. We didn't
dismount, but we knew that the two upper teeth or tushes were missing
and that the hated tooth-hunter was at work. The tracks in the snow
showed there had been two men. An adult elk averages five hundred
pounds of splendid meat; here before us, therefore, lay a thousand
pounds of food thrown to waste just to enable a contemptible
tooth-hunter to obtain four teeth. Tooth-hunting is against the law,
but this is a case where you must catch before hanging.

Well, we saw the cascades, and after resting a little, we started
homeward through the heavy woods, where we were compelled to go more
slowly. We had dismounted, and were gathering some piñon cones from a
fallen tree, when, almost without a sound, a band of elk came trailing
down a little draw where a spring trickled. We watched them file
along, evidently making for lower ground on which to bed. Chub
snorted, and a large cow stopped and looked curiously in our
direction. Those behind passed leisurely around her. We knew she had
no calf, because she was light in color: cows suckling calves are of a
darker shade. A loud report seemed to rend the forest, and the beauty
dropped. The rest disappeared so suddenly that if the fine specimen
that lay before me had not been proof, it would almost have seemed a
dream. I had shot the cow elk my license called for.

We took off the head and removed the entrails, then covered our game
with pine boughs, to which we tied a red bandanna so as to make it
easy to find next day, when the men would come back with a saw to
divide it down the back and pack it in. There is an imposing row of
game hanging in the pines back of our tent. Supper was ready when we
got in. Mr. Haynes had been out also and was very joyful; he got his
elk this afternoon. We can start home day after to-morrow. It will
take the men all to-morrow to get in the game.

I shall be glad to start. I am getting homesick, and I have not had a
letter or even a card since I have been here. We are hungry for war
news, and besides, it is snowing again. Our clothes didn't get dry
either; they are frozen to the bush we hung them on. Perhaps they will
be snowed under by morning. I can't complain, though, for it is warm
and pleasant in our tent. The little camp-stove is glowing. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy is showing Jerrine how to make pigs of potatoes. Calvin
and Robert are asleep. The men have all gone to the bachelors' tent to
form their plans, all save Mr. Murry, who is "serenading" Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy. He is playing "Nelly Gray," and somehow I don't want to
laugh at him as I usually do; I can only feel sorry for him.

I can hardly write because my heart is yearning for my little Junior
boy at home on the ranch with his grandmother. Dear little Mother
Stewart, I feel very tender toward her. Junior is the pride of her
heart. She would not allow us to bring him on this trip, so she is at
the ranch taking care of my brown-eyed boy. Every one is so good, so
kind, and I can do so little to repay. It makes me feel very unworthy.
You'll think I have the blues, but I haven't. I just feel humble and
chastened. When Mr. Murry pauses I can hear the soft spat, spat of the
falling snow on the tent. I will be powerfully glad when we set our
faces homeward.

Good-night, dear friend. Angels guard you.

                              ELINORE STEWART.



IX

AN INDIAN CAMP


                              CLOUDCREST, October 13, 1914.

DEAR, DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

This is the very last letter you will receive dated from this camp. We
are leaving a few days earlier than we intended and I am pretty badly
on the fence. I want to laugh, and really I can hardly keep back the
tears. We are leaving sooner than we meant, for rather a good reason.
We haven't one bite to eat except elk meat.

After the men had brought into camp the elk we killed the other
afternoon, they began to plan a sheep hunt. As sheep do not stay in
the woods, the men had to go miles away and above timber line. They
decided to take a pack horse and stay all night. I didn't want Mr.
Stewart to go because the climbing is very dangerous. No accidents
have happened this year, but last season a man fell from the crags
and was killed; so I tried to keep the "good mon" at home. But he
would not be persuaded. The love of chase has entered his blood, and
it looks to me as if it had chased reason plumb out of his head. I
know exactly how Samantha felt when Josiah _would_ go to the "pleasure
exertion." The bald spot on the Stewart's head doesn't seem to remind
him of years gone by; he is as joyous as a boy.

It was finally decided to take Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and the children and
myself to a neighboring camp about two miles away, as we didn't like
to risk being frightened by a possible intruder. Sorenson, the
game-warden, was in camp to inspect our game on the 12th, and he told
us he was on the trail of tooth-hunters and had routed them out on the
night of the storm; but what they could have been doing in our camp
was as much a mystery to him as to us.

Well, when we were ready to go, Mr. Murry and the Stewart escorted
us. It was a cloudy afternoon and often great flakes of snow fell
gently, softly. The snow was already about eighteen inches deep, and
it made sheep hunting slippery and dangerous work. On our way we came
upon an Indian camp. They were all huddled about a tiny fire;
scattered about were their wikiups made of sticks and pine boughs. The
Indians were sullen and angry. The game-warden had ordered them back
to Fort Washakie, where they belonged. Their squaws had jerked their
elk. You may not know what jerked means, so I will explain: it means
dried, cured. They had all they were allowed, but for some reason they
didn't want to go. Sorenson suspects them of being in with the
tooth-hunters and he is narrowing the circle.

At the camp where we were to stay, we found Mrs. Kavanaugh laid up
with a sore throat, but she made us welcome. It would be a mighty
funny camper who wouldn't. As soon as the men from the Kavanaugh camp
heard our men's plans, they were eager to go along. So it ended in us
three women being left alone. We said we were not afraid and we tried
not to feel so, but after dark we all felt a little timorous. Mrs.
Kavanaugh was afraid of the Indians, but I was afraid they would bring
Clyde back dead from a fall. We were camped in an old cabin built by
the ranger. The Kavanaughs were short of groceries. We cooked our big
elk steaks on sticks before an open fire, and we roasted potatoes in
the ashes. When our fear wore away, we had a fine time. After a while
we lay down on fragrant beds of pine.

We awoke late. The fire was dead upon the hearth and outside the snow
was piling up. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy made a rousing fire and managed to
jolly us until we had a really happy breakfast hour. About three in
the afternoon all the men came trooping in, cold, wet, and hungry.
After filling them with venison, hot potatoes, and coffee, we started
to our own camp. The men were rather depressed because they had come
back empty-handed. The Indians were gone and the snow lay thick over
the place where their fire had been; they had left in the night.

When we came to camp, Mr. Struble started to build a fire; but no
matches were to be had. Next, the men went to feed grain to their
tired horses, but the oats were gone. Mr. Murry sought in vain for his
beloved accordion. Mr. Harkrudder was furious when he found his
grinding machine was gone. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy made a dash for the
grub-box. It was empty. We were dumbfounded. Each of us kept searching
and researching and knowing all the while we would find nothing. Mr.
Struble is a most cheerful individual, and, as Mrs. O'Shaughnessy
says, "is a mighty good fellow even if he _is_ Dutch." "The Indians
have stolen us out," he said, "but after all they have left us our
tents and harness, all our meat, and the road home; so what matter if
we _are_ a little inconvenienced as to grub? Haynes may cry for sugar,
but that won't hurt the rest any. I'll saddle and ride over to
Scotty's and get enough to last us out."

We knew the Kavanaughs could not help us any, but we grew cheerful in
anticipating help from Scotty, who was from Green River and was camped
a few miles away. We wanted Mr. Struble to wait until morning, but he
said no, it would make breakfast late; so he rode off in the dark. At
two o'clock this morning he came in almost frozen, with two small cans
of milk and two yeast cakes. As soon as it was light enough to see,
the men were at work loading the game and breaking camp. As they are
ready now to take down this tent, I will have to finish this letter
somewhere else.



X

THE TOOTH-HUNTERS


                              AT SORENSON'S CABIN
                                 ON GREEN RIVER.

Well, we're here, warmed and fed and in much better trim bodily and
mentally. We had mishap after mishap coming. First the Hutton horse,
being a bronco, had to act up when he was hitched up. We had almost
more game than we could haul, but at last we got started, after the
bronco had reared and pitched as much as he wanted to. There are a
great many springs,--one every few feet in these mountains,--and the
snow hid the pitfalls and made the ground soft, so that the wheels cut
in and pulling was hard. Then, too, our horses had had nothing to eat
for two days, the snow being so deep they couldn't get at the grass,
hobbled as they were.

We had got perhaps a mile from camp when the leading wagon, with four
horses driven by Mr. Haynes, suddenly stopped. The wheels had sunk
into the soft banks of a small, ditch-like spring branch. Mr. Stewart
had to stay on our wagon to hold the bronco, but all the rest, even
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, gathered around and tried to help. They hitched on
a snap team, but not a trace tightened. They didn't want to unload the
game in the snow. The men lifted and pried on the wheels. Still the
horses wouldn't budge.

Mr. Haynes is no disciple of Job, but he tried manfully to restrain
himself. Turning to Glenholdt, who was offering advice, he said, "You
get out. I know what the trouble is: these horses used to belong to a
freighter and are used to being cussed. It's the greatest nuisance in
the world for a man to go out where there's a bunch of women. If these
women weren't along I'd make these horses get out of there."

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy said, "Don't lay your poor driving to the women. If
you drive by cussin', then _cuss_. We will stop up our ears."

She threw her apron over her head. I held my fingers in Jerrine's
ears, and she stopped my ears, else I might be able to tell you what
he said. It was something violent, I know. I could tell by the
expression of his face. He had only been doing it a second when those
horses walked right out with the wagon as nicely as you please. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy said to Mr. Haynes, "It's a poor cusser you are. Sure,
it's no wonder you hesitated to begin. If Danny O'Shaughnessy couldn't
have sworn better, I'd have had to hilp him."

We got along pretty well after that. Mr. Haynes kept some distance
ahead; but occasionally a bit of "cussin'" came back to us and we knew
he was using freighter tactics.

The game-warden lives in a tiny little cabin. The door is so low that
I had to stoop to get in. It was quite dark when we got here last
night, but Mrs. Sorenson acted as if she was _glad_ to see us. I
didn't think we could all get in. A row of bunks is built along one
side of the cabin. A long tarpaulin covers the bed, and we all got
upon this and sat while our hostess prepared our supper. If one of us
had stirred we would have been in her way; so there we sat as thick as
thieves. When supper was ready six got off their perch and ate; when
they were through, six more were made happy.

Mr. Sorenson had caught the tooth-hunters. On the wall hung their
deadly guns, with silencers on them to muffle the report. He showed us
the teeth he had found in their possession. The warden and his deputy
had searched the men and their effects and found no teeth. He had no
evidence against them except their unlawful guns, but he knew he had
the right men. At last he found their contract to furnish two hundred
pair of teeth. It is a trick of such hunters to thrust a knife into
the meat of the game they have, and so to make pockets in which they
hide the teeth; but these fellows had no such pockets. They jeered at
the warden and threatened to kill him, but he kept searching, and
presently found the teeth in a pail of lard. He told us all about it
as we sat, an eager crowd, on his bed. A warden takes his life in his
hands when he goes after such fellows, but Sorenson is not afraid to
do it.

The cabin walls are covered with pen-and-ink drawings, the work of the
warden's gifted children,--Vina, the pretty eighteen-year-old
daughter, and Laurence, the sixteen-year-old son. They never had a
lesson in drawing in their lives, but their pictures portray Western
life exactly.

The snow is not so deep here as it was at camp, but it is too deep for
the horses to get grass. The men were able to get a little grain from
the warden; so we will pull out in the morning and try to make it to
where we can get groceries. We are quite close to where Elizabeth
lives, but we should have to cross the river, and it was dark before
we passed her home. I should like to see her but won't get a chance
to. Mrs. Sorenson says she is very happy. In all this round of
exposure the kiddies are as well as can be. Cold, camping, and elk
meat agree with them. We are in a tent for the night, and it is so
cold the ink is freezing, but the kiddies are snuggled under their
blankets as warm as toast. We are to start early in the morning.
Good-night, dear friend. I am glad I can take this trip _for_ you.
You'd freeze.

                              ELINORE STEWART.



XI

BUDDY AND BABY GIRL


                              IN CAMP, October 16, 1914.

DEAR MRS. CONEY,--

The day we left the game-warden's was damp and lowering. It didn't
seem it could have one good thing to its credit, but there were
several things to be thankful for. One of them was that you were safe
at home in your warm, dry apartment. We had hardly passed the great
Block buttes when the biggest, wettest flakes of snow began to pelt
into our faces. I really like a storm, and the kiddies would have
enjoyed the snow; but we had to keep the wagon-sheet tied down to keep
the bedding dry, and the kiddies get sick under cover. All the
pleasure I might have had was taken away by the fact that we were
making a forced drive. We _had_ to go. The game-warden had no more
than enough food for his family, and no horse feed. Also, the snow
was almost as deep there as it had been higher up, so the horses could
not graze.

We made it to Cora that day. Here at last was plenty of hay and grain;
we restocked our mess-boxes and felt better toward the world. Next day
we came on here to Newfork, where we are resting our teams before we
start across the desert, which begins just across the creek we are
camped on.

We have added two to our party. I know you will be interested to know
how it happened, and I can picture the astonishment of our neighbors
when we reach home, for our newcomers are to be members of Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy's family. We had all been sorry we could not visit
Elizabeth or "Danyul" and his mother. We felt almost as if we were
sneaking past them, but we consoled ourselves with promises to see the
Burneys and Grandma Mortimer. Yesterday the children and I were riding
with Mrs. O'Shaughnessy in the buckboard. We were trotting merrily
along the lane that leads to Newfork, thankful in our hearts to be out
of the snow,--for there is no snow here. Just ahead of us two little
boys were riding along on their ponies. There was a wire fence on both
sides of the lane, and almost at the end of the lane an old cow had
her head between the wires and was nibbling the tall dead grass. The
larger of the two boys said, "That's old Pendry's cow, and she shan't
eat a blade of grass off Dad's meadow."

He rode up to the cow and began beating her with his quirt. That
frightened the cow, and as she jerked her head up, the top wire caught
her across the top of her neck; she jerked and lunged to free herself,
and was cruelly cut by the barbs on the wire. Then he began beating
his pony.

The small boy said, "You're a coward an' a fool, Billy Polk. The cow
wasn't hurtin' nothin', an' you're just tryin' to show off, beatin'
that pony."

Said the other boy, "Shut up, you beggar, or I'll beat you; an' I'll
take them breeches you got on off you, an' you can go without
any--they're mine. My ma give 'em to you."

The little fellow's face was scarlet--as much of it as we could see
for the freckles--and his eyes were blazing as he replied, "You ain't
man enough. I dare you to strike me or to tech my clothes."

Both boys were riding bareback. The small boy slid off his pony's
back; the other rode up to him and raised his quirt, but the little
one seized him by the leg, and in a jiffy they were in the road
fighting like cats. I asked Mrs. O'Shaughnessy to drive on, but she
said, "If you are in a hurry you can try walkin'; I'm goin' to referee
this scrap."

It looked for a minute as if the small boy would get a severe beating,
but by some trick he hurled the other headlong into the green, slimy
water that edged the road; then, seizing the quirt and the opportunity
at the same time, he belabored Billy without mercy as that individual
climbed up the slippery embankment, blubbering and whipped. Still
sobbing, he climbed upon his patient pony, which stood waiting, and
galloped off down the lane. The other pony followed and the little
conqueror was left afoot.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was beaming with delight. "Sure, 'twas a fine
fight, a sight worth coming all this way to see. Ah! but you're the
b'y. 'Tis a dollar I'd be givin' ye, only me purse is in me
stockin'--"

"Oh," the boy said quickly, "don't let that stop you. I'll look off
another way."

I don't know if she would have given him the money, for just then some
men came into the lane with some cattle and we had to start. The boy
got up on the back end of the buckboard and we drove on. We could hear
our wagons rumbling along and knew they would soon catch up.

"Where is your home, b'y?" asked Mrs. O'Shaughnessy.

"Oh, just wherever Aunt Hettie has work," he said. "She is at Mr.
Tom's now, so I'm there, too,--me and Baby Girl."

"Where are your folks?" Mrs. O'Shaughnessy went on.

"Ma's dead, an pa's gone to Alasky. I don't know where my brothers
are. Baby Girl an' me are with Aunt Het, an' that's all there are of
us." He grinned cheerfully in spite of the fact that one eye was fast
closing and he bore numerous bumps and scratches on his face and head.

Just then one of the men with the cattle galloped up and shouted,
"Hello!" It was Mr. Burney! "Where'd you get that kid? I guess I'll
have to get the sheriff after you for kidnapping Bud. And what have
you been doing to him, anyway?"

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy entered delightedly into a recital of the "mixup,"
and it turned out that Mr. Tom and Mr. Burney were one. It was like
meeting an old friend; he seemed as pleased as we and insisted on our
going up to his ranch; he said "the missus" would feel slighted if we
passed her by. So we turned into another lane, and presently drew up
before the ranch house. "The missus" came dancing out to meet us, and
right welcome she made us feel. Mr. Burney went back to bring the
rest, but they were already setting up the tents and had supper almost
ready. However, we stayed and had supper with the Burneys.

They are powerfully happy and talked eagerly of themselves and their
prospects. "It's just grand to have a home of your own and some one to
do for. I just _love_ to mend for Tommy, but I always hated to mend
before," said the missus.

"You bet," Mr. Burney answered, "it is sure fine to know there's
somebody at home with a pretty pink dress on, waitin' for a fellow
when he comes in from a long day in the saddle."

And so they kept up their thoughtless chatter; but every word was as a
stab to poor Aunt Hettie. She had Baby Girl on her lap and was giving
the children their supper, but I noticed that she ate nothing. It was
easy to see that she was not strong. Baby Girl is four years old and
is the fattest little thing. She has very dark blue eyes with long,
black lashes, and the shortest, most turned-up little nose. She is so
plump and rosy that even the faded old blue denim dress could not hide
her loveliness.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy could not keep her eyes off the children. "What is
the little girl's name?" she asked.

"Caroline Agnes Lucia Lavina Ida Eunice," was the astonishing reply.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy gasped. "My _goodness_," she exclaimed; "is that
_all_?"

"Oh, no," Aunt Hettie went on placidly; "you see, her mother couldn't
call her all the names, so she just used the first letters. They spell
Callie; so that is what she called her. But I don't like the name. I
call her Baby Girl."

I asked her how she ever came to name her that way, and she said, "My
sister wanted a girl, but there were six boys before this little one
came. Each time she hoped it would be a girl, and accordingly selected
a name for a girl. So there were six names saved up, and as there
wasn't much else to give her, my sister gave them _all_ to the baby."

After supper the Burneys rode down to camp with us. We had the same
camping ground that we had when we came up. The cabin across the
creek, where we met Grandma Mortimer, is silent and deserted; the
young couple have moved away with their baby.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy kept talking about the fight, and Mr. Burney gave
us the history of the children. "Their mother," he began, "has been
dead about eighteen months. She really died with a broken heart. Baby
Girl was only a few weeks old when the father went to Alaska, and I
guess he's dead. He was to 'a' been back in three years, and no one
has ever heard a word from him. His name was Bolton; he was a good
fellow, only he went bughouse over the gold fields and just fretted
till he got away--sold everything for a grub stake--left his wife and
seven kids almost homeless. But they managed some way till the mother
died. With her last breath she asked that the two youngest be kept
together; she knew the oldest ones would have to be separated. She
never did give up looking for Bolton and she wanted him to have the
babies.

"Her sister Hettie has worked around here for years; her and Rob
Langley have been going to marry ever since I can remember, but always
there has something cropped up. And now that Hettie has got to take
care of the kids I guess they won't never marry; she won't burden him
with them. It is hard for her to support them, too. Work is scarce,
and she can't get it, lots of times, because of the kids."

The Burneys soon went home and the rest of us went to bed,--all except
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, who was so cranky and snappy that we left her by
the fire. It seemed hours after when I awoke. She was still sitting by
the fire; she was absently marking in the ashes with a stick. I
happened to be the first one up next morning and as I stirred up the
fire I saw "Baby" written in the ashes. We had breakfasted and the men
had gone their ways when Mrs. O'Shaughnessy said to me,--

"It is a blessed old soul Mrs. Mortimer is. Do you mind any good
lesson that she taught us in the cabin beyont?" I did not remember.
"She said, 'The pangs of motherhood make us mothers not only of our
own, but of every child that needs mothering,--especially if our own
little children need us no longer. Fill their little places with ones
who do need us.' Them's her very words, and it's sweet truth it is.
Both my Katie and Sheridan have been grown and gone these many years
and my heart has ached for childher, and there's none but Cora Belle.
I am goin' to get them childher this day. What do you think about it?"

I thought so well of it that in about two minutes we were harnessing
the horses and were off to lay the plan before Hettie in
record-breaking time.

Poor Hettie: she wept quietly while the advantages of the scheme were
being pointed out. She said, "I love the children, dearly, but I am
not sure I can always feed and clothe them; that has worried me a lot.
I am almost sure Bolton is dead. I'll miss the little things, but I am
glad to know they are well provided for. You can take them."

"Now," said Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, "you go on an' marry your man if he is
a decent sort. Do it right away before something else happens. It is
an illigant wedding present I'll be sendin' you. You must come to see
the childher often. What's the b'y's name?"

"We never did name him; you see we had kind of run out of boys' names.
We just called him Buddy."

"I can find a name for him," said Mrs. O'Shaughnessy. "Is there a
Joseph in the family?" Hettie said no. "Well, then, he is named
Joseph Bolton O'Shaughnessy, and I'll have them both baptized as soon
as we get to Green River."

So in the morning we start with two new members. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy is
very happy. I am so glad myself that I can hardly express myself. We
are _all_ happy except Mr. Murry; he has at last given up hopes, and
gone. Mr. Haynes growls a little about having to travel along with a
rolling nursery, but he is just bluffing. I am longing to see Junior.
We have not heard one word since we left them, and I am so homesick
for mother and my boy. And _you_, best of friends, when shall I see
your beloved face? To-morrow night we shall camp at Ten Trees and we
shall be one day nearer home.

                              With much love,
                                   ELINORE RUPERT STEWART.



XII

A STAMPEDE


                              IN CAMP ON THE DESERT,
                                   October 19.

MY DEAR, DEAR FRIEND,--

It is with a chastened, humble heart that I begin this letter; I have
stood face to face with tragedy and romance, and to me one is as
touching as the other, but you will know better when I tell you what I
mean. We _all_ bustled about to get started from Newfork. Now that we
had started, all were homesick. Just ahead of us was a drove of two
thousand steers being driven to the railroad to be shipped. I advise
you to keep ahead of such drives when you take such a trip, because
the trampling of so many feet makes a road almost impassable. What had
been snow in the mountains had been rain on the desert, and we found
the going decidedly bad. A rise of a hill would give us, now and
then, a glimpse of a slow-moving, dark-colored mass of heaving forms,
and the desert breezes brought to our ears the mournful lowing of the
poor creatures. Sometimes, too, we could hear a snatch of the cowboys'
songs. It was all very beautiful and I would have enjoyed it hugely
except that my desire to be home far outran the wagon and I felt like
a prisoner with clogs.

We nooned at the cabin of Timothy Hobbs, but no one was at home; he at
last had gone "back East" for Jennie. About mid-afternoon the boss of
the cow outfit came up on a splendid horse. He was a pleasant fellow
and he made a handsome picture, with his big hat, his great chaps and
his jangling spurs, as he rode along beside our wagons, talking.

He told us that a crazy duffer had gone about over the desert for
years digging wells, but at last he struck water. A few miles ahead
was a well flowing like an artesian well. There would be plenty of
water for every one, even the cattle. Next morning we could start
ahead of the herds and so the roads would be a little better.

It was quite early when we made camp in the same long draw where we
saw Olaf. There was a great change. Where had been dry, burning sand
was now a clear little stream that formed shallow pools where the sand
had blown away, so that harder soil could form a bottom less greedy
than the sand. Off to our left the uneasy herd was being held in a
wide, flat valley. They were grazing on the dry, sparse herbage of the
desert. Quite near the well the mess-wagon had stopped and the cook
was already preparing supper. Beyond, a few yards away, a freighter's
long outfit was stopped in the road.

Did you ever see the kind of freight outfit that is used to bring the
great loads across the desert? Then I'll tell you about the one we
camped near. Freight wagons are not made precisely like others; they
are very much larger and stronger. Several of these are coupled
together; then as many teams as is necessary are hitched on--making a
long, unbroken string of wagons. The horses are arranged in the same
manner as the wagons. Great chains are used to pull the wagons, and
when a camp is made the whole affair is stopped in the middle of the
road and the harness is dropped right where the horse that bore it
stood. Many freighters have what they call a coaster hitched to the
last wagon. The coaster is almost like other wagons, but it is a home
on wheels; it is built and furnished as sheep wagons are. This
freighter had one, and as we drove past I was surprised to see the
form of a woman and a small boy. We camped quite near them.

For an hour we were very busy preparing supper and arranging for the
night. As we sat at supper I thought I had never known so quiet and
peaceful an hour. The sun hung like a great, red ball in the hazy
west. Purple shadows were already gathering. A gentle wind rippled
past across the dun sands and through the gray-green sage.

The chain parts of the hobbles and halters made a clinking sound as
the horses fed about. Presently we heard a rumbling just like distant
thunder. The cowboys sprang into their saddles; we heard a shot, and
then we knew the terrible truth,--the steers had stampeded. For me,
the next few minutes were an eternity of frightful confusion. Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy and I found ourselves with the children upon our largest
wagon; that was absolutely all the protection to be had. It would have
gone down like a house of cards if that heaving sea of destruction had
turned our way. I was scared witless. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy knelt among
the children praying with white lips. I stood up watching the terrible
scene. The men hastily set the horses free. There was no time to mount
them and ride to safety with so many little children, and as there was
nothing to tie them to but the wagons; we _had_ to let them go so as
to have the wagons left for shelter. _This_ is why cowboys are such
well-loved figures of romance and in mentioning them romance is fact.

"Greater love hath _no_ man than this: that he lay down his life
for his brother." They knew nothing about us only that we were
defenseless. They rode boldly on their stanch little horses flanking
the frenzied steers, shooting a leader here and there as they got a
chance. If an animal stumbled it went down to its death, for hundreds
of pounding hoofs would trample it to pulp. So it would have been with
the boys if their horses had stepped into a badger hole or anything of
the kind had happened. So the tide was turned, or the steers kept of
themselves, I don't know which, on up the valley instead of coming up
our draw. The danger was past.

Presently the cowboys came straggling back. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy ran to
meet them. So when two on one horse came with a third riding close
beside, helping to hold an injured man on, we knew some one was hurt.
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was, as usual, ready and able to help.

But the freighter's daughter was as quick and had a mattress ready
beside the coaster by the time the cowboys came up with the wounded
man. Gently the men helped their comrade to the mattress and gently
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and the girl began their work. I quieted the
children and put them to bed. The men were busy rounding up the
horses. The cowboys kept talking together in low tones and coming and
going in twos and threes. They acted so queerly that I wondered if
some one else was not hurt. I asked the boss if any more of his men
were hurt. He said no, none of _his_ men were. I knew none of our men
or the freighter were harmed, so I dismissed fear and went to Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy.

"Poor boy," she said, "he has a broken thigh and he's hurt inside. His
belly is knocked into a cocked-hat. We will pull him through. A man
has already gone back to Newfork to get an automobile. They will take
him to Rock Springs to the hospital in the morning."

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and the girl were doing all that could be done;
they sent me back to care for the children. To keep warm I crawled
under the blankets, but not to sleep. It didn't seem to me that I
could _ever_ sleep again. I could hear the men talking in subdued
tones. The boss was dispatching men to different places. Presently I
saw some men take a lantern and move off toward the valley. I could
see the light twinkling in and out among the sage-brush. They stopped.
I could see forms pass before the light. I wondered what could be the
matter. The horses were all safe; even Boy, Mr. Haynes's dog, was
safe, shivering and whining on his master's blankets. I could plainly
hear the hiccoughs of the wounded man: the click-cluck, click-cluck,
kept on with maddening persistence, but at last his nurses forced
enough hot water down him to cause vomiting. The blood-clots came and
the poor fellow fell asleep. A lantern was hung upon the wagon and the
two women went into the coaster to make some coffee.

It was three o'clock in the morning when the men of our outfit came
back. They put on their heavy coats and were seeing to their horses. I
asked Clyde what was the matter.

"Hush," he said; "lie still. It is Olaf."

"But I want to help," I said.

"You can't help. It's--all over," he replied as he started again to
where the lantern was gleaming like a star fallen among the sage.

I tucked the children in a little more snugly, then went over to the
coaster.

"Won't you come to bed and rest?" I asked Mrs. O'Shaughnessy.

"No, I'll not. Are me children covered and warm?"

"Yes," I answered.

"What are them fellys pow-wowing about down in the sage?"

"Olaf is dead," I said.

"Who says God is not merciful? Now all the poor felly's troubles are
done with. 'Twas him that caused the stampede, mayhap. God send him
peace. I am glad. He will never be hungry nor cold any more."

"Yes," said the girl; speaking slowly. "I am glad, too. He almost
lived in this draw. We saw him every trip and he _did_ suffer. Dad
left a little for him to eat and whatever he could to wear every trip.
The sheep-herders helped him, too. But he suffered. All the home he
had was an old, thrown-away sheep wagon down beyond the last ridge
toward the valley. I've seen him every two weeks for ten years. It's a
wonder he has not been killed before."

"I wonder," said Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, "if he has any family. Where will
they bury him?"

"He has no people. If they will listen to Dad, they will lay him here
on the desert. He would want it so."

After breakfast Mrs. O'Shaughnessy lay down for a little rest. When
the wounded man awoke the girl gave him a little coffee.

"You're awful good to me," he said. "I'd like to have you around all
the time."

The girl smiled gravely. "Ain't you got nobody to take care of you?"

"No. What is your name?"

"Amy Winters. Now you must hush. Talkin' might make you worse."

"I'm not so tur'ble bad off. Where do you live?"

"In the coaster, somewhere on the road between Pinedale and Rock
Springs. Dad is a freighter."

"Huh! Do you like to live that way?"

"No; I want a house and a garden awful bad, but Dad can't do nothin'
but freight and we've got Jessie to raise. We ain't got no ma."

"Do women _have_ to change their names when they marry?"

"I don't know. Reckon they do, though. Why?"

"'Cause my name is Tod Winters. I know where there is a dandy little
place up on the Gros Ventre where a cabin would look mighty good to me
if there was some one to keep it for me--"

"Oh, say," she interrupted, "that is a awful pretty handkerchief
you've got around your neck."

Just then the automobile came up frightening our horses. I heard no
more, but the "awful pretty handkerchief" was missing when the hero
left for the hospital. They used some lumber from a load the freighter
had and walled up a grave for Olaf. They had no tools but axes and a
shovel we had along. By noon Olaf was buried. Glenholdt set a slab of
sandstone at the head. With his knife he had dug out these
words--"Olaf. The friend of horses."

We camped last night at Ten Trees. To-night we are at Eden Valley. The
mystery of Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's sudden change about the license is
explained. She unloaded an elk at the Sanders cabin. "'Twas two I
aimed to bring you, but me own family has increased by twins whilst
I've been gone, so one ilk will have to do you."

So now, dear friend, I am a little nearer you. In one more week I
shall be home.

                              Sincerely, _thankfully_ yours,
                                   E. R. S.



XIII

NEARING HOME


                              AT THE WELL IN THE DESERT,
                                   October 21.

DEAR FRIEND,--

We shall reach Green River City to-night. We will rest the teams one
day, then start home. It will take us two days from Green River to
reach home, so this is the last letter on the road. When we made camp
here last night we saw some one coming on horseback along the cañon
rim on the opposite side. The form seemed familiar and the horse
looked like one I had seen, but I dared not believe my eyes. Clyde,
who was helping to draw water from the eighty-foot well without a
pulley, thought I was bereft as I ran from the camp toward the
advancing rider. But although I thought what I saw must be a mirage,
still I knew Mrs. Louderer on Bismarck.

Out of breath from my run, I grasped her fat ankle and panted till I
could speak.

"Haf they run you out of camp, you iss so bad?" she asked me by way of
greeting. Then, more kindly, "Your boy iss all right, the mutter also.
I am come, though, to find you. It iss time you are home with the
_kinder_. Haf you any goose-grease left?"

I had, all she had given me.

At camp, joy knew no bounds. Never was one more welcome than our
beloved neighbor. Her astonishment knew no bounds either, when her big
blue eyes rested upon Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's "twins."

"Frau O'Shaughnessy," she said severely, "what have you here? You iss
robbed an orphan asylum. How haf you come by these?"

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy is so full of life and good spirits and so
delighted to talk about her "childher" that she gave a very animated
recital of how she became a happy mother. In turn Mrs. Louderer told
how she grew more and more alarmed by our long absence, but decided
not to alarm the neighbors, so she had "made a search party out of
mineself," and had fared forth to learn our fate.

We had a merry supper; even Haynes became cheerful, and there was no
lagging next morning when we started for home. When people go on elk
hunts they are very likely to return in tatters, so I am going to
leave it to your imagination to picture our appearance when we drove
up to the rear of the hotel about sundown. Our friend Mrs. Hutton came
running to meet us. I was ashamed to go into her house, but she leaned
up against the house and laughed until tears came. "_What_ chased
you?" she gasped. "You must have been run through some of those barbed
wire things that they are putting up to stop the German army."

Mrs. Hutton is a little lady who bolsters up self-respect and makes
light of trying situations, so she "shooed" us in and I sneaked into
my room and waited until Clyde could run down to the store and
purchase me a dress. I feel quite clean and respectable now, sitting
up here in my room writing this to you. I will soon be at home now.
Until then good-bye.

                              E. R. S.



XIV

THE MEMORY-BED


                              October 25.

DEAR, DEAR FRIEND,--

Can you guess how happy I am? Be it _ever_ so humble there is no place
like home.

It is so good to sit in my creaky old rocker, to hold Junior, to
feel his dear weight; to look at my brave little mother. I do not
like the "in-law." She is _mother_ to me. Under the east window
of our dining-room we have a flower-bed. We call it our memory-bed
because Clyde's first wife had it made and kept pansies growing
there. We poured the water of my little lost boy's last bath onto the
memory-bed. I keep pansies growing in one side of the bed in memory of
her who loved them. In the other end I plant sweet alyssum in memory
of my baby. A few pansies and a tuft of sweet alyssum smiled a
welcome, though all the rest of my flowers were dead. We have a
hop-vine at the window and it has protected the flowers in the
memory-bed. How happy I have been, looking over the place! Some young
calves have come while we were gone; a whole squirming nest full of
little pigs. My chickens have outgrown my knowledge. There is no snow
here at all. Our experiences on our trip seem almost unreal, but the
wagon-load of meat to be attended to is a reminder of realities. I
have had a fine trip; I have experienced about all the human emotions.
I had not expected to encounter so many people or to get the little
inside glimpses that I've had, but wherever there are human beings
there are the little histories. I have come home realizing anew how
happy I am, how much I have been spared, and how many of life's
blessings are mine. Poor Mrs. Louderer, childless and alone, openly
envying Mrs. O'Shaughnessy her babies! In my bedroom there is a row of
four little brown heads asleep on their pillows. Four precious
kiddies all my own. And not the least of my blessings, _you_ to tell
my happiness to. Has my trip interested you, dear friend? I _hope_ you
liked it. It will lose a little of its charm for me if you find it
uninteresting.

I will write you again soon.

                              Your happy friend,
                                   E. R. S.

                         THE END



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:

Minor changes have been made to correct obvious typesetters' errors;
otherwise, every effort has been made to remain true to the author's
words and intent.





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