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Title: Philip of Texas - A Story of Sheep Raising in Texas
Author: Otis, James
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Philip of Texas - A Story of Sheep Raising in Texas" ***

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    [Illustration: Map to illustrate the Story of Philip of Texas]



                            PHILIP OF TEXAS


                   A STORY OF SHEEP RAISING IN TEXAS


                                  BY

                              JAMES OTIS


                            [Illustration]


                  NEW YORK -:- CINCINNATI -:- CHICAGO
                         AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY

       *       *       *       *       *



                          COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY
                           MRS. A. L. KALER.

                  COPYRIGHT, 1913, IN GREAT BRITAIN.


                           PHILIP OF TEXAS.

                               W. P. I.

       *       *       *       *       *



FOREWORD


The author of this series of stories for children has endeavored simply
to show why and how the descendants of the early colonists fought
their way through the wilderness in search of new homes. The several
narratives deal with the struggles of those adventurous people who
forced their way westward, ever westward, whether in hope of gain or
in answer to "the call of the wild," and who, in so doing, wrote their
names with their blood across this country of ours from the Ohio to the
Columbia.

To excite in the hearts of the young people of this land a desire to
know more regarding the building up of this great nation, and at the
same time to entertain in such a manner as may stimulate to noble
deeds, is the real aim of these stories. In them there is nothing of
romance, but only a careful, truthful record of the part played by
children in the great battles with those forces, human as well as
natural, which, for so long a time, held a vast portion of this broad
land against the advance of home seekers.

With the knowledge of what has been done by our own people in our own
land, surely there is no reason why one should resort to fiction in
order to depict scenes of heroism, daring, and sublime disregard of
suffering in nearly every form.

                                                  JAMES OTIS.

       *       *       *       *       *



CONTENTS


  PAGE

  MY DREAMS OF A SHEEP RANCH        9

  SHEEP RAISING                    10

  HERDING SHEEP                    12

  SOMETHING ABOUT TEXAS            14

  LAND GRANTS                      15

  THE "TEXAS FEVER"                16

  WHY I WANTED TO GO INTO TEXAS    18

  HUNTING IN TEXAS                 19

  FATHER GOES TO SPY OUT THE LAND  21

  OUR PLANTATION IN MISSISSIPPI    23

  FATHER COMES HOME                24

  THE BIGNESS OF TEXAS             25

  WHERE WE WERE GOING              26

  WHAT I HOPED TO DO               28

  CATTLE DRIVING                   29

  HOW WE SET OUT                   31

  A LABORIOUS JOURNEY              32

  COMANCHE INDIANS                 35

  FATHER COMES TO MY RESCUE        36

  THE ARRIVAL AT FORT TOWSON       39

  PREPARING FOR A STORM            40

  A DRY "NORTHER"                  42

  TWO KINDS OF "NORTHERS"          43

  HOW TURKEYS KILL RATTLESNAKES    46

  DEER AND RATTLESNAKES            47

  MAKING A CORRAL OF WAGONS        49

  ON THE TRAIL ONCE MORE           51

  MESQUITE                         52

  A TEXAS SHEEP RANCH              54

  THE PROFITS FROM SHEEP RAISING   55

  FATHER'S LAND CLAIM              56

  SPANISH MEASUREMENTS             57

  THE CHAPARRAL COCK               57

  OUR FIRST NIGHT ON THE TRINITY   59

  STANDING GUARD                   60

  A TURKEY BUZZARD                 62

  PLANS FOR BUILDING A HOUSE       64

  THE COOK SHANTY                  66

  A STORM OF RAIN                  68

  A DAY OF DISCOMFORT              69

  THINKING OF THE OLD HOME         70

  WAITING FOR THE SUN              72

  TOO MUCH WATER                   74

  THE STREAM RISING                76

  TRYING TO SAVE THE STOCK         77

  THE ANIMALS STAMPEDED            79

  SAVING OUR OWN LIVES             81

  A RAGING TORRENT                 83

  A TIME OF DISASTER               84

  THE FLOOD SUBSIDING              86

  A JACK RABBIT                    88

  REPAIRING DAMAGES                90

  ROUNDING UP THE LIVE STOCK       91

  THE FIRST MEAL AFTER THE FLOOD   93

  WAITING FOR FATHER               94

  RECOVERING OUR GOODS             97

  SETTING TO WORK IN GOOD EARNEST  98

  SAWING OUT LUMBER               100

  LABORING IN THE SAW PIT         102

  WILD CATTLE                     104

  A DISAGREEABLE INTRUDER         105

  ODD HUNTING                     107

  A SUPPLY OF FRESH MEAT          109

  "JERKING" BEEF                  111

  SEARCHING FOR THE CATTLE AGAIN  113

  OUR NEW HOME                    114

  PLANTING, AND BUILDING CORRALS  115

  BAR-O RANCH                     117

  AN ODD CART                     118

  THE VISITORS                    120

  ZEBA'S CURIOSITY                121

  POSSIBLE TREACHERY              123

  SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR             123

  GYP'S FIGHT WITH A COUGAR       125

  IN A DANGEROUS POSITION         127

  HUNTING WILD HOGS               129

  TREED BY PECCARIES              130

  GYP'S OBEDIENCE                 133

  MY CARELESSNESS                 135

  VICIOUS LITTLE ANIMALS          137

  FATHER COMES TO THE RESCUE      138

  THE INCREASE IN MY FLOCK        141

  UNREST OF THE INDIANS           143

  TEXAS JOINS THE UNION           144

  WAR WITH MEXICO                 147

  SELLING WOOL                    149

  PEACE ON THE TRINITY            151

  MY DREAM FULFILLED              152

       *       *       *       *       *



PHILIP OF TEXAS


MY DREAMS OF A SHEEP RANCH


The day I was twelve years old, father gave me twelve ewes out of his
flock of seventy-two, counting these sheep as payment for the work I
had done in tending them. Even at that time I thought myself a good
shepherd, for I was able to keep a small flock well together.

[Illustration]

With Gyp, our dog, I could have herded five hundred as readily as I
did seventy-two, because on our plantation in Mississippi the pastures
were fenced. Therefore when father began to talk of moving to Texas
and there making a venture in the cattle business, I decided at once
that if he did so, it should be my aim to raise sheep. With this idea
I gathered from the neighbors roundabout, who had larger flocks than
ours, all the possible information about the business in our own state.

[Illustration]



SHEEP RAISING


A sheep in order to thrive should have not less than two acres of
fairly good pasturage in which to roam. Much less than that amount of
land would provide a sheep with food in case it was inclosed; but on
the range, where the flock is turned out to feed over a large extent of
country, the animals are inclined to "bunch," as the herders call it;
that is, to keep in close company and wander here or there trampling
down the grass without eating it.

A sheep will yield about five pounds of wool each year, and you can
count that each animal in a herd will give you one dollar's worth of
its fleece annually. Of course there is considerable expense, if one
is obliged to pay for shearing, or for dipping, in case that disease
known as "scab" comes among the flock. I have known a sheep raiser
to pay four cents a head to the Mexican shepherds simply for dipping
the flock; that is to say, for giving each animal a bath in a certain
mixture in order to drive out distemper which, in sheep, is like the
mange that comes upon dogs.

Then it is pretty certain that during the year there will be as many
lambs born as there are sheep in the flock, and if a sheep is worth
five dollars, you can reckon the lamb at three, for it will be a
yearling in twelve months, and a full-grown sheep a year later. So one
can say that every sheep worth five dollars will bring in a profit of
four dollars each year, less the expense of keeping.



HERDING SHEEP


Suppose you have a flock of five hundred sheep. They will "herd," as
sheepmen say, which means, keep nearly together, within a space around
which a man can ordinarily walk two or three times a day, to prevent
the wilder ones from straying.

When the flock is driven out on the range from the pens, they are
kept moving a mile or two, while the shepherd walks around the flock,
talking to them, so that they may hear his voice; the animals pick up
mouthfuls of grass now and then, even while being driven.

In rainy or cold weather, sheep walk much more rapidly than they do
when it is warm; therefore the shepherd has more work to do. In very
hot, dry weather, they will often not feed in the daytime, but continue
eating until late in the night, and then the herder has his work cut
out, for those are long days from sunrise until nine or ten o'clock.

But think of the profit of five hundred sheep in one year! Suppose they
cost you for herding, shearing, and dipping, in case you cannot manage
the flock yourself, three hundred dollars. You get two thousand dollars
for the wool and the increase in the flock, and pay out three hundred.
This leaves seventeen hundred dollars clear profit in one year from
five hundred sheep, and that is not a large flock.

Of course if the scab gets among the sheep, or the Indians kill many,
or the wolves can't be kept away, there will be more or less loss which
must come out of the seventeen hundred dollars; but take it all in all,
unless one has very hard luck, it seems to me he should be able to
count on at least a thousand dollars profit from five hundred sheep.

[Illustration]

Now it might seem as if this matter of raising sheep, and the profit to
be had from them, could have no influence in deciding my going from the
state of Mississippi to the republic of Texas, and yet if it had not
been for my hope of one day owning a big sheep ranch, I would not have
been so delighted when father began to talk of making a new home in
that country which had so lately separated from Mexico.



SOMETHING ABOUT TEXAS


One might suppose that my father was a shiftless sort of man to make
a change of homes after he had a boy twelve years old; but that is
not the fact, as you will understand when I tell you why we sold the
plantation in Mississippi, where we were raising fairly good crops of
cotton, to embark in the cattle business in Texas.

Of course, it is not necessary for me to relate that the people in
Texas declared themselves independent of Mexico in the year 1836, as in
1776 the colonists determined to be free men in a free country, and so
broke away from England and England's king.

No doubt you already know that it was on the twenty-second day of April
in the year 1836, the day after the battle of San Jacinto, that General
Houston captured the Mexican general, Santa Anna; a treaty was then
made between Texas and Mexico, which allowed the Texans to become an
independent nation. You are also acquainted with the troubles in Texas,
when, in the year 1840, the Comanches overran the country, and you have
heard of the capture of the town of San Antonio by the Mexicans in
September of the year 1842.



LAND GRANTS


All this has little to do with what I am going to tell in regard to
my going into the sheep business; yet if all those things had not
happened, then President Lamar and President Houston might not have
been able to make grants of land to people who were willing to come
into the country and build homes.

There were a number of men who succeeded in getting so-called grants
from the Texan government. Among these there was a certain Mr.
Peters,--I never knew his first name,--who had obtained a grant of an
exceedingly large tract of land in the northern part. It was, so father
had been told, the best land in Texas; and in order to gain settlers,
Mr. Peters agreed to give outright to the head of every family six
hundred and forty acres of land, and to each single man three hundred
and twenty acres.

Now, of course, my father was the head of a family, although mother and
I were the only other members of it; nevertheless he would receive just
as many acres of land as though he had a dozen children.

When the matter was first talked about among our neighbors in
Mississippi, I hoped I might be counted as a single man; but I was very
soon made to understand that a lad of twelve years was mistaken when he
reckoned himself of sufficient age to have given him three hundred and
twenty acres of land simply for going into a country and living there.



THE "TEXAS FEVER"


Because of this offer by Mr. Peters, the people around us, whose
plantations were not particularly valuable, were highly excited, for
all had heard how rich was the land in the republic of Texas, and how
well it was adapted for cattle raising.

[Illustration]

While mother and father were talking the matter over, trying to decide
whether they would go into Peters's colony, I heard him tell her that
already a great many people from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and
Kentucky, as well as from our state, had gone there and had sent back
the most cheering words regarding the possibility of making money in
that new country.

Perhaps I should say that this grant was made to the Peters colony
early in the year 1842, but it was not until the spring of the next
year that father began to have what some of our neighbors laughingly
called the "Texas Fever"; and I took it because of the possibilities of
raising sheep.

It was just about this time that the Texans began to talk of being
annexed to the United States, for their republic was not so flourishing
as many would have liked to see it. The country was in debt to the
amount of nearly seven million dollars, so I heard father say, and the
people stood in fear of the Mexicans on the one side, who were ever
ready to make trouble, and of the Indians on the other, to say nothing
of the wild beasts everywhere.

Such a thinly settled country could not raise large armies to fight off
their enemies, and those people who had been living for some time in
Texas believed that if their republic could become a part of the United
States, they would have all the soldiers that were needed to keep peace
in the land.



WHY I WANTED TO GO INTO TEXAS


[Illustration]

Of all this I knew very little at the time father was talking about
making a new home, and I cared less, for my mind was filled entirely
with the idea of one day owning a large sheep ranch. From the time I
began to take care of father's flock I had heard people, lately come
from Texas, declare that that was the one spot in all the wide world
where sheep could be raised easily and at small cost.

There were other reasons besides this which caused me to hope that my
father would decide to make a change of homes. I had heard that the
ponies, which the Texans called mustangs, could be bought for from
eight to twenty dollars each, and that they cost no more to keep than
ordinary cows, for they did not require grain. Now, in all my life, I
had never owned either horse or pony, for the only driving animals on
our Mississippi plantation had been mules.



HUNTING IN TEXAS


[Illustration]

I had also read that there was much good hunting in Texas, and that one
need not go very far afield in order to find plenty of bears; in fact,
that there were too many for the comfort of the sheep raisers. I knew
also that deer were to be found in large numbers and that there were
cougars, which are called Mexican lions, and panthers, together with
wildcats and wolves. Fancy such a list of game as that for a fellow who
was as fond of shooting as I was!

[Illustration]

Then again, one of our neighbors who had been in Texas told me of the
wild hogs, or peccaries, as they are sometimes called, that go in
droves of from half a dozen to twenty or thirty, and are very fierce
when stirred up.

The wolves concerned me most just then, for you know that these animals
are exceedingly fond of sheep, and he who herds a flock on the range
must keep his eyes wide open for those four-footed enemies. Three kinds
of wolves were to be found in Texas: the black wolf which was rare,
the coyote, and the lobo or gray wolf. The last two were great sheep
stealers and many in number.

It seemed to me then, as it has many times since, that it would be
great sport to hunt those sheep eaters and lay up a goodly stock of
their pelts, for a wolf hide, when taken in the proper season, makes an
excellent bed covering, whether it be in a house or on the open prairie.

From the time that father began to talk of joining Peters's colony,
I spent a good portion of my time learning all that was possible
concerning this republic, the people of which were eager to come into
the United States. I found, as any one can who will make diligent
search, the most interesting stories not only about hunting, but about
the early troubles between Texas and Mexico, the Texans' fight for
independence, and the many Indian raids.



FATHER GOES TO SPY OUT THE LAND


It seemed to me that father and mother spent a great deal of
unnecessary time in discussing whether they would change their home
from Mississippi to Texas. In fact I was beginning to despair of ever
becoming a sheep raiser in the Peters colony, when father suddenly
declared that he would go to see the country for himself, and if it was
half as good as people said it was, he would lay out his claim of six
hundred and forty acres and come back to sell the plantation and move
the live stock.

I begged hard to be allowed to go with him, but my request was not to
be granted, for although we owned two slaves, John and Zeba, neither
of them could be trusted to look after the cattle, the sheep, and the
mules.

[Illustration]

Therefore it was decided that I should be the head of the family while
father was away, and so proud was I over being given such a position of
trust, that I failed to grieve, as I otherwise might have done, at not
being allowed to go with him.

He set out with a pair of our best mules hitched to a light wagon,
intending to drive to Little Rock in Arkansas, and from there to Fort
Towson, after which he would make his way across what is now Grayson
County, spying out the land.



OUR PLANTATION IN MISSISSIPPI


It was not a very long journey, although he would probably travel two
or three hundred miles before turning back. We lived in Bolivar County,
in Mississippi, near Indian Point, where, as you know, the Arkansas
River joins with the Mississippi.

Our plantation was not well suited to cotton raising, and perhaps for
this reason father was all the more willing to listen to those people
who had so much to say about Texas, that one could almost believe it
to be a veritable Promised Land. Father had set out to raise cattle,
although our plantation was no better adapted for such a purpose,
perhaps, than it was for cotton raising. We had about seventy head of
oxen, and twenty mules, together with the seventy-two sheep which made
up my own and my father's flocks. I did not realize that the profits
from sheep raising in Texas might not be the same as in Mississippi.

I counted the days while father was away, thinking with each sunrise
that I would see him again before nightfall. After he had been gone two
or three weeks I was foolish enough to wander up the road now and then,
hoping to meet him on his return, and be the first to hear the good
news.



FATHER COMES HOME


He had been absent nearly six weeks, and my heart had almost grown sick
with waiting, when late one night, after I had gone to bed, I heard a
commotion downstairs, followed by shouts for John or Zeba, and then I
recognized my father's voice.

There is little need for me to say that I tumbled, rather than ran,
down the stairs, so great was my eagerness to learn the result of his
visit into Texas, and even before he had had time to take me in his
arms I insisted on knowing whether he had staked out his claim.

In a few words he quieted my impatience by telling me we would set off
for the new country as soon as the necessary arrangements could be
made. So far as the details were concerned I was willing to wait, for
the matter had been settled as I hoped it would be.

Later, I learned that our new home was to be on the West Fork of the
Trinity River, where, so father said, the land was better suited for
cattle or sheep raising than any other he had ever seen.

As a matter of fact he was even more delighted with the prospect of
going to Texas than I was, and at once mother fell in with the plan
heartily. She knew he would not have been so pleased at taking up a
claim, unless it seemed certain we could better our position very
greatly, for he was a home-loving man, and would not have moved from
our plantation had he not felt reasonably sure of making a change for
the better.

[Illustration]

He told us that people from the United States, and even from across
the sea in France, were going in great numbers to Texas, and he had no
doubt but that as soon as it was made one of the states of the Union,
it would prosper beyond any land of which we had ever heard.



THE BIGNESS OF TEXAS


Then he began to tell us how large the republic of Texas was, and
before he had finished I was filled with astonishment, for, without
having given any great thought to the matter, I had fancied it might,
perhaps, be somewhere near the size of our state of Mississippi.

He told us that Texas was much larger than the countries of Sweden and
Norway together, three times the size of Great Britain and Ireland, and
nearly twice as large as France. He also said that the area of all the
New England and Middle States was considerably less than that of Texas.

Imagine such an extent of territory open to new settlers! A republic
nearly eight times as large as the state of New York, nine times as
large as the state of Ohio, and six times as large as all New England
put together!

There was no longer any surprise in my mind that the people who made up
the government of Texas would be willing to give six hundred and forty
acres to every man with a family who would settle there, when, within
their boundaries, they had more than two hundred million acres.



WHERE WE WERE GOING


Talk of sheep raising, and giving two acres to each sheep! If, before
father went away, I had been eager to own a sheep ranch in Texas, then
certainly I was nearly wild with the idea after he returned, for from
his stories I began to understand that one could own thousands upon
thousands, and yet find ample room to feed them all.

We were not going, so it seemed, into the best portion of the republic
for sheep raising, but rather into the northern part, while the finest
grazing lands were on the western side, or in that oddly shaped piece
which is called the "Panhandle."

However, I was well satisfied if we could not have the best of the
sheep-raising business, if only we might embark in it anywhere.

Again I was contented because we were going into the northern part,
rather than to the westward, owing to the stories father told of an
enormous colony of Frenchmen which was being brought over the sea by a
gentleman whose name was Castro. Mr. Henry Castro was a very wealthy
Frenchman, who had been appointed by the Texan government as Consul
General to France. Having been given a grant of land by the government,
he agreed to bring over a large number of people from his native
country, paying all their expenses of traveling, and lending each man
sufficient money to set himself up as a ranchman. Already, it was said,
he had seven hundred people on seven different ships which he had hired
at his own cost, and these colonists would soon be set down in Texas to
make their way as best they might with his assistance.



WHAT I HOPED TO DO


I was only twelve years old, and already owned twelve ewes. Now I well
knew from what I had heard sheep raisers say, that if I attended to
my little flock properly, and if they met with no accident, it would
be nothing marvelous if, at the end of nine years, when I should be
twenty-one, my flock had increased to five thousand, or even more.

[Illustration]

Father had hardly finished telling mother and me of what he had seen
during his journey, before we began to make preparations for moving.
Surely it seemed to me we were likely to have good luck, for within
eight and forty hours after he returned, a man came up from Baton Rouge
to buy our plantation, having heard that father was suffering with the
Texas fever. Within two hours after he showed his willingness to buy
our land the bargain was made, a fairly large portion of the money paid
over, and mother and I knew that within twenty days we should leave the
home where I was born.



CATTLE DRIVING


Perhaps my heart grew just a bit faint when I learned that it would be
necessary to drive all our cattle and sheep from Bolivar County into
Texas, and that I was expected to do a large share of the work. Father
thought that John, Zeba, and I should be able to keep the cattle on
the road, for we were to follow the highway the entire distance, and
he intended to hire three slaves from our neighbors to drive the mules
which would haul all our household belongings.

There was no question in my mind but that we would get along easily
with the oxen and the cows. Father decided to harness most of the mules
to three wagons, so they could be handled by the hired negroes; but
the question of how we would be able to get the sheep along worried me
much. Whoever has had charge of such animals knows well that it is not
a simple task to drive them over a strange country, however quiet they
may have been on feeding grounds with which they are acquainted.

But no good could come from my worrying as to how we might get into
Texas. I would soon know by experience. In fact, I had little time to
concern myself about anything whatsoever save the work on hand, because
in order to be ready to leave the plantation within twenty days, all of
us found plenty with which to occupy our hands.

[Illustration]

It really seemed to me as if Gyp knew exactly what we were planning
to do, for he walked around at my heels day after day, with his tail
hanging between his legs, as though ashamed that he was about to leave
the United States for a new country, where he would see a flag which
bore but a single star.



HOW WE SET OUT


There was so much bustle and confusion on the plantation during the
short time left to us that I hardly remember how we made ready; but I
do know that we were finally prepared for the journey, and that John
and Zeba set off with the cattle twenty-four hours before father,
mother, and I left home, in order that the creatures might become
somewhat accustomed to traveling by the time we overtook them.

We had three wagons covered with heavy cloth, each drawn by six mules,
and loaded with all our provisions, clothing, and such farming tools as
we wanted to take with us.

The other two mules were harnessed to the wagon in which father had
made the journey to Texas, and in this mother was to travel, father
riding with her when he was not needed elsewhere.

My mother was a good horsewoman, and the handling of two, or even four,
mules would not have troubled her in the slightest. Therefore she said
to me laughingly when Gyp and I had gathered the sheep into one corner
of the stable yard, ready to set off just behind the mule teams, that
her part of the journey would be much like a pleasure trip, while to my
share must come a goodly portion of dust and toil.

Father had hired from one of the neighbors three of his best negroes,
who were to drive the mule teams, and who could be trusted to come back
alone from Texas as soon as their work had been finished.

[Illustration]

So it was that we had in our party two grown white people, one boy,
five negroes, and Gyp. I am counting the dog as a member of the
company, for before we arrived at the West Fork of the Trinity River
he showed himself to be of quite as much importance, and of even more
service, than either the white or the colored men.



A LABORIOUS JOURNEY


John and Zeba managed to get along with the cattle very well; but the
drivers of the mule teams were not so skillful in handling the animals
as father had expected, and the result was that he found it necessary
to take the place of one or the other nearly all the time, thus leaving
mother alone.

Sometimes I led the procession; at other times I trudged on in the rear
where the dust was thickest, running first on one side of the road and
then on the other, to keep the sheep from straying, and succeeded in
holding them to the true course only by the aid of my dog, who had more
sound common sense in that shaggy body of his than the brightest lad I
have ever come across. Gyp was a willing worker, and a cheery companion
at all times. He would run here and there regardless of the heat, and
when the sheep were partly straightened up as they should be, come back
panting, his red tongue lolling out, and looking up at me with a world
of love in his big brown eyes, as if to ask why I was so solemn, or
why I could not find, as he did, some sport in thus driving a flock of
silly sheep to Texas.

During the journey we halted wherever night over-took us, sometimes
camping in the open and finding our beds in one of the wagons, or again
herding our cattle in the stable yard of a tavern.

As for food, we got it as best we could. When fortune favored us and we
came upon a tavern, we had enough to satisfy our hunger, and in very
many places as good as we could have had at the old home in Bolivar
County. At other times we ate from the store of provisions we carried,
cooking the food by the roadside, while the sheep and the cattle, too
tired to stray very far after so many miles of plodding, fed eagerly on
whatever grass they were lucky enough to find.

[Illustration]

Gyp was my bedfellow, whether I slept in one of the wagons or at a
tavern, and before we had crossed the Red River I found myself treating
him as I would have treated a lad of my own age, and time and time
again I thought to myself that he understood all I said to him.



COMANCHE INDIANS


[Illustration]

Before we left the old home I firmly believed we would meet with
strange adventures on our long journey, and each morning when we set
out, I driving the sheep, with Gyp running to and fro to make certain
my work was done properly, I felt convinced that before night came
something out of the ordinary would take place. Yet until we came near
to Fort Towson I saw nothing more strange or entertaining than I might
have seen on the banks of the Mississippi River, but when we were
within two miles or more of the fort, and the sheep and I were leading
the way, we suddenly came upon a band of seven Comanche Indians, the
first of the tribe I had ever seen. They were all mounted, no one of
them wearing more clothing than the breech-cloth around his waist,
and at least two of them armed with what I believed to be serviceable
rifles.

It was as if the fellows had come up out of the very ground, so
suddenly did they appear. Although I could not have understood their
language if any attempt had been made to open a conversation, it was
plain to me that they intended to take possession of my sheep as well
as of those belonging to father, while I did not doubt but that they
would make quick work of me.



FATHER COMES TO MY RESCUE


It is more than likely that all my fears might have been realized had
the remainder of our party been very far in the rear, for I believe
the savages thought I was alone on the road, driving the flock to Fort
Towson where it could be slaughtered; but at the very moment when two
of the most villainous of the party dismounted and came toward me with
their rifles in hand, father and mother drove up in the two-mule team.

Immediately the savages drew back until they had regained their horses,
which were being held meanwhile by the other members of the party.

Father was out of the wagon in a twinkling, with a pistol in each hand
and coming rapidly toward me, shouting for those in the rear to hurry
on, as if he had a large company at his back.

[Illustration]

The Indians did not wait to learn how strong we were in numbers, and
more than likely they saw the cloud of dust in the distance which
told of the coming of the cattle and the loaded wagons; perhaps they
believed it was raised by a troop of men, for without parley, and
before one could have counted ten, they had wheeled about and were
riding at their best pace in the opposite direction.

So great was my relief of mind that I felt inclined to make light of
the adventure, but was straightway sobered when father said gravely:--

"There is much to be feared from those rascally Comanches. The only
reason I have not already cautioned you often and very strongly is
because I feared to alarm your mother. Do not take any chances if, when
you are alone, you come upon such as those who have just fled, but
seek safety in flight if possible. If you cannot escape, make ready
for a desperate defense, and even when you are on our claim, have your
weapons always ready for use."

So intent had I been in planning what might be done in raising sheep,
that the possibility of having trouble with the Indians never came into
my mind; but now that father had spoken as he did, I knew that beyond a
doubt there was good reason for caution, if not for alarm.

Straightway my thoughts went out into the future, as I asked myself
how it would be possible, while herding sheep, to defend myself, for I
well understood that only Gyp and I could be spared to play the part of
shepherds. All the others would be attending to the regular work of the
ranch, and could not be expected to give heed to me.



THE ARRIVAL AT FORT TOWSON


[Illustration]

I was still turning this unpleasant prospect over in my mind when we
arrived at Fort Towson, and then I began to believe the country of
Texas was not all I had fancied. It was only reasonable for a lad like
me to expect that at this fort I would find something which resembled
a fortification, and yet, so far as could be judged from the outside,
it was no more than the ordinary buildings of a ranchman, except that
walls of sun-dried bricks connected the several structures, forming
a square. On the side facing the south were two heavy gates of logs,
which now swung wide open, but it was plain to be seen that they could
be closed quickly if need arose.

There were in charge of this ranchlike fort no more than six or seven
men, and of these, two were Mexicans, while all wore the same gaudy
costumes that may be seen in every Spanish settlement.



PREPARING FOR A STORM


It was yet early in the afternoon when we came to this halting place.
We had no reason to complain of our reception, for the man who appeared
to be the leader of the company came out even before we were ready to
enter the inclosure, and said, while John and Zeba were driving the
cattle to what seemed good pasturage, that it would be better for us if
we herded the stock inside the fort.

This caused me some surprise, for since early morning the air had been
so calm that a feather would not have been blown from a tree top, and
the weather was warm and sultry, giving promise of discomfort if one
were shut within the four walls of the fort.

I fancy even father was astonished because the man invited us inside
when it was almost suffocatingly hot on the open prairie. Seeing that
we hesitated, the leader of the small garrison pointed toward the west,
where could be seen a few low-hanging, sluggish clouds drifting slowly
here and there, while at the same time I thought I saw a yellow smudge
low down on the northern horizon.

[Illustration]

"It's a norther," the man said as if believing he had explained matters
sufficiently. When father still hesitated, he added, "Your cattle will
be stampeded when the wind comes, unless you have them corralled, and
there is not time for you to get the wagons in position."

I did not understand even then, for I had never been told anything
whatsoever regarding these strange storms which are called "northers"
by Texans, but I noticed that father ran at full speed to give orders
for John and Zeba to turn the cattle into the fort, and as he went he
shouted for me to herd the sheep within the inclosure.

The man who had bidden us welcome aided me in the task, and more than
that, for when the sheep were snugly inside, he ran back to tell the
drivers of the wagons to get their mules unhooked and in a safe place
before the wind came.



A DRY "NORTHER"


We were hardly more than thus housed before a distant roaring could be
heard, not unlike thunder, and in a short time the wind was upon us in
a perfect hurricane, cold as icy water.

[Illustration]

At one instant the perspiration had been running down my face because
of the exertion of hurrying the sheep and mules into the fort, and in
the next I felt as if I had taken a plunge into a bank of snow.

My teeth chattered as I followed the Mexicans, who were running into
one of the buildings, and I noticed, as I went at full speed, that the
mules and the cattle had turned tail to the storm of wind, standing
with lowered heads, as such beasts are wont to do during a tempest.

There was no rain, but a sort of mist hung in the air, which soon gave
way to a blue haze, and I fancied it had a peculiar odor, like the
smoke from burning straw. I paid no great attention to it at the time,
however, so eager was I to come to the heat of the fire, which had been
speedily built in that hut to which the Mexicans fled for refuge.

It was while I stood there striving to get some comfort from the cheery
blaze, that the leader of the company came into the room. Joining me
at the fireplace, and knowing of course by this time that I was having
my first experience with a Texan "norther," he explained to me the
peculiarity of these storms, which, as I found out later, are frequent
in these regions.



TWO KINDS OF "NORTHERS"


The Texans divide the storms into what they call a wet, and a dry,
norther.

Wet northers are those which bring rain or sleet, and usually last
twelve or fourteen hours without doing any particular damage, ending
with a mild north or northwest wind. But the stock is likely to suffer
from the storms, because of being wet with the sleet or rain, and then
thoroughly chilled by that ice-cold wind.

The dry norther I have already told about. Our host explained to me
that it might continue fiercely for from twenty-four to forty-eight
hours, then gradually die away in from twelve to eighteen hours, during
all of which time that penetrating cold would continue.

I soon came to understand that the man had told no more than the truth,
for father said, when he finally came where I was, that we should
probably have to remain penned up in Fort Towson two or three days,
and advised me to make myself as comfortable as possible, for we were
welcome to the use of any of the buildings.

The only way in which I could follow this advice was to hug the fire
as closely as possible, for whenever I moved a short distance away,
that chilling air would envelop me as if with a mantle of ice, and I
thought to myself more than once, that if I were to be caught out on
the prairie herding a flock of sheep when one of these northers came
up, I might freeze to death.

I did, however, venture away from the heat long enough to make certain
that my mother was comfortable. There were two other women in the fort,
one a Mexican who appeared to be a sort of servant, and the other the
wife of that man who had extended to us the hospitality of the place.
With these two my mother remained nearly forty hours, when the wind
subsided and the air grew balmy once more.

[Illustration]

I remained the greater portion of that time in the hut where I first
sought refuge. The hours were not wasted, for I had a strong desire to
learn something regarding this country in which we were to make our new
home.



HOW TURKEYS KILL RATTLESNAKES


[Illustration]

One of the Mexicans was a most talkative kind of person, and seeing
that I was a tenderfoot from the cotton country, who had never before
ventured away from home, undertook to amuse me by telling stories,
some of which I believed to be true, while others appeared extremely
doubtful.

When he made the statement that wild turkeys killed rattlesnakes, I set
it down that he was drawing the long bow for my especial benefit; but
before I had lived in Texas six months I saw it done, and truly it was
interesting.

He said that he had seen, more than once, twelve or fifteen big
gobblers dancing around in a circle, as if they were fighting. They
gave no attention to him when he crept up quite near to them, and
there saw in the midst of this circle a large rattlesnake, actually
struggling for his life.

The gobblers, one after the other, as if it had all been arranged
beforehand, would spring high into the air and come down upon the
snake, taking care not to get too near his head, and would strike him
with one of their wings such a blow that the noise could be heard some
distance away. Near by, as if they had no interest in what was going
on, a flock of turkey hens might be feeding.

As I have said, at that time I set it down as a fable, but more than
once since then I have witnessed almost exactly such a fight, and never
have I failed to see the rattlesnake killed.



DEER AND RATTLESNAKES


Another way of killing rattlesnakes, which the Mexican told about, was
employed by deer, which, as we all know, will attack a snake whenever
they come across one. He said that whenever a rattlesnake sees a deer
coming, he seems to have a pretty good idea of what is in store for
him, and at once loses courage.

The snake coils himself up tightly, hiding his head beneath his body,
as if understanding that it is of no use to struggle, and that he might
better submit to martyrdom.

[Illustration]

The deer jumps up into the air, bringing all four feet together, and
comes down with his sharp hoofs upon the coiled snake, cutting and
mangling him until there is no longer any life in his long body. I have
never seen anything of the kind; but father says that he has heard of
such killings again and again, and has no doubt whatsoever as to the
truth of the story.

Before the storm cleared away, but when the wind had so far subsided
that one might venture out without fear of freezing to death, a big
wagon train came up toward the fort, evidently expecting to pass the
night there. Then for the first time I saw those people who freight
goods from the Missouri River down into Texas and Mexico form with
their wagons what they call a corral. It was to me something well worth
watching, even though I might have been more comfortable inside the
building in front of a blazing fire.



MAKING A CORRAL OF WAGONS


The train was made up of heavy wagons, each drawn by four yoke of
cattle. When the first came up in front of the fort, the driver turned
his team at an angle with the trail, bringing the oxen away from the
fort and the rear end of the wagon toward it.

The second wagon was wheeled around within a short distance of the
first, the intention of the teamsters being to halt the heavy carts
in such positions that when all had arrived a circle would be formed,
within which the cattle could be kept. On that side nearest the fort a
passage between two of the wagons, five or six feet in width, was left
open through which the oxen could be driven after they had been unyoked.

As soon as the cattle had been taken to where they might feed, heavy
ropes were stretched across the opening, so that the four mules which
had been driven by the owners of the train were actually fenced in,
and there was no need either to hobble or to make them fast with a
picket line, for they could not make their way out between the wagons.

[Illustration]

It was all done in a way which showed that these people had been
accustomed to making camp quickly so that they would have a place
where they might corral the stock, and stand some chance of defending
themselves against Indians.

It was this precaution on the part of the teamsters which gave me yet
more reason than I had on meeting the Comanches to understand that in
this country there were many chances that we might be called upon to
battle for our lives.

One of the drivers told me that, on the march, when a norther springs
up, they always make a corral in this fashion, forming it sufficiently
large to herd all the cattle within the circle. If they are not sharply
looked after, the animals will take to their heels as if frightened
out of their wits. Therefore people who are accustomed to such sudden
changes in the weather are ever on the lookout lest their cattle be
left where they may not readily be bunched. Oxen will become wilder
through fear of a norther than they can be made through the shrieking
and yelling of Indians who are trying to stampede them.



ON THE TRAIL ONCE MORE


On the second morning after our arrival at Fort Towson we set off once
more, father and mother leading the way in the small mule cart, and I
following behind the three wagons, while John and Zeba brought up the
rear with the cattle, which, having had a welcome rest at the fort,
were now traveling at a reasonably rapid pace, so fast, in fact, that
Gyp and I had to urge the sheep along at their best speed lest we be
overrun.

At the end of the first day's journey father told me that we had
crossed over the border line of the republic, and were then in Texas.
This was pleasing news, because the long journey had become decidedly
wearisome.



MESQUITE


During the day we had been traveling over rolling land, which was
covered with rich grass and looked not unlike what I have heard about
the ocean, for we climbed over billow after billow and saw the same
sea of undulating green stretched out before us, with here and there a
small clump of oak or pecan trees, or thickets of mesquite.

[Illustration]

Mesquite, of which there is so much in Texas, sometimes grows to the
height of thirty or forty feet, but as a rule it is found as bushes
no more than five or six feet high. It bears a pod something like a
bean, which, before ripening is soft and exceedingly sweet, and so
very pleasant to the taste that white people as well as Indians gather
it as fruit. The wood of the mesquite, which may be found reasonably
large in size, and which is of a brown or red color when polished, but
exceedingly hard to work, is valuable for the underpinnings of houses,
for fence posts, and even for furniture.

[Illustration]

The next morning after we had crossed the Texas line we came upon the
very thing in which I had the greatest interest, a sheep ranch, and I
urged father to halt there for an hour or more that I might see how
the animals were cared for here in this country, as compared with our
manner of feeding and housing them in Mississippi.



A TEXAS SHEEP RANCH


Save for the house in which the shepherds live, I saw very little in
the way of buildings for sheltering the stock. There were immediately
around the dwelling (which, by the way was made partly of sun-dried
brick and partly of mesquite wood) twenty or thirty small sheep
pens, with cribs inside formed of rails loosely laid together, the
whole looking as if some indolent person had decided to start in the
sheep-raising business with as little labor as possible.

The only person we could see on the ranch was a man who acted as cook.
Fortunately for me, he appeared more than willing to answer the many
questions I was eager to ask. In the first place, he told me, as others
had, that the northern part of Texas was not adapted to sheep raising
in comparison with the western, or the panhandle, section, but that the
owners of the ranch were making a very profitable business out of it
just at that time.

They had four herders for about five thousand sheep. Each herder had a
dog, and with his dog he remained out on the range month after month,
being allowed so many lambs or sheep every thirty days for his own
food. The two were supplied by the cook with the other things they
might need, such as flour, a bit of bacon, and salt. The wages paid at
that time were only twenty dollars a month.



THE PROFITS FROM SHEEP RAISING


The cook had some marvelous stories to tell of the money that might be
made in Texas by sheep raising, and among them was this:--

[Illustration]

A man for whom he worked had a flock of fifteen hundred sheep, which he
let out to a herder on shares. He gave the herder one quarter of the
wool, and one quarter of the increase in lambs; he also furnished the
salt, the sheep dip, and, of course, the herder's food. Here are the
figures which the cook showed me set down in a greasy pocket book of
his, and which he declared were absolutely true. The owner received for
the wool, after the herder had taken his share, eight hundred dollars;
the increase in lambs was eight hundred, which at even a dollar and a
half amounted to twelve hundred dollars. Of this last one fourth went
to the herder, leaving nine hundred dollars for the increase. Thus
the owner of the sheep received as a net profit from a flock of only
fifteen hundred sheep seventeen hundred dollars, which is almost as
well as he could have done in Mississippi.

Even though I had not been bent on sheep raising before we entered
Texas, that story alone would have been sufficient to excite my desire
to engage in it. It is true my twelve sheep would make a sorry showing
by the side of fifteen hundred, but yet I was only twelve years old,
and, as I had said to myself again and again, fortune must go against
me exceedingly hard if by the time I had come to manhood I could not
show more than fifteen hundred, even though the beginning had been so
small.



FATHER'S LAND CLAIM


After seeing that sheep ranch and hearing the stories told of the
money that might be made in the business, I was more eager than ever
to come to that claim which father had staked out, so I might get my
share of the flock in good condition while we were building our home,
and there was no portion of the journey that seemed so long and so
wearisome to me as the eight and forty hours after we left the ranch.
Then we came to the location of our new home, and had it not been for
that experience with the dry norther, I would have said that in such a
spot a lad might live until he was gray-headed, with never a desire to
leave.



SPANISH MEASUREMENTS


The claim was located, as I have said, on the West Fork of the Trinity
River, but it must not be supposed that our land ran any very great
distance along the stream, for the laws of Texas regarding the taking
up of a homestead claim prohibited a man from occupying on the river
bank more than a certain distance, that is to say, he could have one
Spanish vara to each acre in a survey of three hundred and twenty
acres, and three fourths of a vara per acre for all other surveys.

You may be certain my father had taken all the land adjoining the
stream which the law allowed him, and I was well pleased that we had
such a large share of river frontage.

I was wholly ignorant about Spanish measurements at the time we
arrived, but since then I have fixed the tables in my head fairly well.
A vara is a little over thirty-three inches; a labor is about one
hundred and seventy-seven acres. Of course we reckoned our boundaries
in American measurements, but in all our relations with the Mexicans it
was necessary to know of what we were speaking.



THE CHAPARRAL COCK


Father's claim was in a valley where was a large motte, or grove, of
pecan trees. As we came up to the place a bird called a chaparral cock
looked down on me with what I fancied was a note of welcome. It seemed
to me a happy omen that the little fellow should have uttered his cry
at the very moment my eyes rested upon him.

[Illustration]

His head was cocked on one side, and his black, beady eyes twinkled in
a most kindly fashion, so that I hailed him as a friend and vowed that
neither he nor any of his family should come to harm through me unless
it might be that we were sorely pressed for food. But it did not appear
to me probable we should ever be put to such straits as that of killing
a bird who thus made us welcome.

Father had already decided upon the location of the house, which was
to be just south of the pecan trees, which would shelter us from those
icy northers. The three wagons and the two-mule cart were therefore
drawn up side by side at the very spot where he intended to build the
dwelling, so that we might use them for lodgings until we had a better
place.



OUR FIRST NIGHT ON THE TRINITY


The live stock were turned out that night to wander as they would. We
had no fear of their straying, for since leaving Fort Towson all the
animals had been pushed forward at their best pace, and every one was
sufficiently weary to remain near at hand.

[Illustration]

Before darkness had come we learned that the little chaparral cock was
not the only neighbor we were to have in our new home, for there came
from the distance what sounded like screams of pain, and sharp, yelping
barks. The hair stood up on Gyp's back, and he bared his teeth as if
ready for a most desperate struggle, while I took good care to keep him
close beside me as I tumbled into the two-mule cart for my rifle, not
knowing what danger threatened us.

Then father laughed heartily and told me that the dismal,
blood-curdling noises which I heard came from a pack of coyotes, or
wolves, howling, perhaps in expectation of getting supper. He predicted
that we would soon become accustomed to such disagreeable noises, for
there was little doubt but that these beasts would remain our neighbors
until we could kill them off, or, at least, make them afraid of
venturing near our clearing.

A large part of the goods was thrown out of the wagons that we might
spread our beds in comfort, for it was expected that we should live
under the canvas coverings until we had built our house; the first work
necessary was the setting up of some kind of shanty to serve as a cook
room.

That night, however, a fire was built in the open, and over it mother
prepared the evening meal while father and I milked the cows. With
smoking hot corn bread, fried bacon, bacon fat in which to dip the
bread, and plenty of fresh milk, we had such a meal as tired emigrants
could fully appreciate.



STANDING GUARD


If I imagined that all of us were to lie down in the wagons and take
our rest on this first night after arriving at the Trinity, I was very
much mistaken. Father made me forget all about sleep and rest, when he
said that unless we kept sharp watch against the coyotes we were likely
to lose several sheep before morning, and that it was necessary that at
least two of us stand guard throughout the night.

[Illustration]

If only the oxen or the mules had been in danger, perhaps I would not
have been so eager to shoulder my rifle and, in company with Zeba,
tramp around and around the animals until midnight. As it was, however,
I did my duty faithfully, and when the night was half spent, father
came out with John to relieve us. I was so weary that when I crawled
into one of the wagons on to the soft feather bed, it seemed to me as
if my legs would drop from my body, and my eyes were so heavy with
slumber that it was only by the greatest exertion I could keep them
open.

[Illustration]

When next I was conscious of my surroundings, the rising sun was
sending long yellow shafts of light beneath the canvas covering of
the wagon; the little chaparral cock was calling out from the pecan
motte near at hand, as if to assure me he still stood my friend; while
far away could be heard the shrieks, yelps, and barks of the cowardly
wolves which had been sneaking around our flock of sheep all night.



A TURKEY BUZZARD


I came out of the wagon with a bound, determined that from this on
until I had my flock of five thousand sheep, there should be no
dallying on my part.

[Illustration]

As I started toward the stream for a morning bath, a big black shadow
came between me and the sun. Looking up, I saw for the first time a
turkey buzzard, his black coat and red crest showing vividly against
the sky as he flapped lazily in front of me to alight in the near
vicinity of the chaparral cock. I was so superstitious as to believe
for the moment that the sudden appearance of this disagreeable-looking
bird at the very moment when the little cock was bidding me good
morning, threatened disaster to our scheme of making a home and to my
plan of raising sheep.

With the air fresh and bracing, the sunlight flooding everything with
gold, and even with the dismal shrieks and yelps in the distance, it
would have been a pretty poor kind of fellow who could have remained
long disheartened, simply because a grumbling old turkey buzzard
chanced to fly in front of him.

The stream by the side of which I hoped to live for many a long year
was not deep at this season, but clear as crystal, and just cool enough
to give me the sensation of being keenly alive when I plunged in head
foremost. I floundered about until I heard mother calling for me to
hurry while the corn bread was hot, lest I lose my share, for both she
and father were ravenously hungry.

While we ate we decided where the cook camp should be put up and how
we would care for the cattle, the sheep, and the mules while we were
building our house. In fact, very many plans were laid during those
ten or fifteen minutes, some of which were carried out at once.



PLANS FOR BUILDING A HOUSE


As for the cook shanty, we were not inclined to spend very much time
over it. Simply a shelter from the dew and the sun, where mother might
be screened from the wind, so she could use the cookstove we had
brought with us, was all we needed.

[Illustration]

Father intended to build a house of lumber, even though at that time
he knew that he would be forced to pay anywhere from twenty to thirty
dollars a thousand feet for cheap boards, and then haul them no less
than two hundred miles.

After he had told me about the lumber I asked in wonder and surprise if
he counted on spending so much money, when we might build a house as
the Mexicans do, of adobe brick, with no more timber in it than would
serve to hold up a roof of mud. He laughingly replied that when we had
made a saw pit, he would show me how we might get out our own building
material, and said that I was to have a hand in the manufacture, for he
thought I could do my share of the sawing when I was not looking after
the cattle or the sheep.

Before leaving home he had made arrangements to keep with us the three
negroes whom we had hired in Bolivar County, until we were fairly
settled. Therefore we had seven pairs of hands in this house building,
which should put the work along in reasonably rapid fashion, even
though five of the laborers were not skilled.

We spent no more time at breakfast than was necessary for eating and
for roughly sketching out the plans for the day's work. After this each
set about his task. I drove the sheep a short distance away toward
the farther end of the valley, where they could conveniently get at
the water and yet find rich pasturage; John and Zeba picketed out the
mules; and father with the three negroes rounded up the cattle.



THE COOK SHANTY


This done, we set about making a shanty by digging to the depth of
two or three feet a space about three yards wide and four yards long,
around the sides of which we set branches of pecan trees. We planted
poles at the four corners so that we could use the wagon covers for
walls and roof.

When this rudest kind of rude building was so far finished that it
would screen us from the wind, we set up the cookstove, and mother
began what in Bolivar County she would have called her regular
Saturday's baking. After this we put on a roof of canvas, pinning the
whole down as best we might with mesquite bushes, until we had a shed
which would serve, but which was most crude looking.

Although there was nothing on which we could pride ourselves in this
first building, it had occupied us nearly the entire day, and I had
no more than an hour in which to rest my weary limbs before it was
necessary to stand guard over the sheep, lest the wolves carry off the
beginnings of my flock.

It was during this night, when it cost not only great effort, but
real pain, to keep continually on the move lest I fall asleep, that
I decided that at the very first opportunity I would build a corral.
While our flock was so small, it would not be a very great task to
build a pen sufficiently large to hold the animals together, and at the
same time shut out the wolves. There were enough mesquite bushes, or
trees, to provide me with the necessary material, and I decided upon
the place where I would build a pen, figuring in my mind how the work
could be best done.

[Illustration]

Therefore, when father relieved me at midnight, I had in my mind's
eye the first sheep pen put up on the West Fork of the Trinity, and
already in imagination was on the high road to prosperity.



A STORM OF RAIN


When another morning came, my dreams of what the future might bring me
had become decidedly cloudy, for the rain was falling, not furiously,
as in the case of a norther or a short-lived tempest, but with a steady
downfall which told of a long spell of disagreeable weather, and I
was not the only member of our party to come out from the beds in the
wagons looking disheartened, and uncomfortably damp.

[Illustration]

At our old home in Bolivar County the first sound in the morning which
usually broke upon my ear was that of mother's singing as she prepared
breakfast. On this day she was in our cook house, but working in
silence. So, forgetting my own discomfort in the fear that something
might have gone wrong with her, I asked why I had not heard her
morning song. In reply she pointed first to the heavens, and then to
our stock of household belongings, which were strewn here and there
where they had been taken from the wagons. To give her cheer, I tried
to laugh, saying there was little among our goods which would come to
harm because of the rain, and such as might be injured I would quickly
get under cover. She replied in an injured tone that father had told
her there were few rainstorms in Texas during the year, save when a
norther raged.



A DAY OF DISCOMFORT


I ventured to jest with her, by saying most likely it had been arranged
for our especial benefit, as we were newcomers in the country and
needed to be introduced to all varieties of climate. The light words
failed to bring a smile to her lips. So, without loss of time, I set
about carrying such of our belongings as might be injured by the rain
to the shelter of the wagons, and had hardly more than begun the task
when father returned, his face quite as gloomy as mother's.

He tried to apologize for this sort of weather, and began by saying
that from all he had learned during his first visit there was little
danger that we should be visited by a very long storm.

Even the negroes were out of humor, and although the morning was not
cold, all were shivering, and looked as if they had been taking a bath
in the stream. I asked Zeba what had happened. In sulky tones he told
me that while he had been rounding up the cattle and bunching them at
the upper end of the valley, so that they would not stray too far on
the prairie, he had been treated to a veritable shower bath from the
moisture on the mesquite bushes and the pecan trees.

[Illustration]



THINKING OF THE OLD HOME


The chaparral cock was silent. Even the turkey buzzard had forsaken
the pecan motte. The mules, which I could see in the distance, were
hanging their long ears dejectedly, and the cattle in a most forlorn
manner stood humped up with their heads away from the wind. Only the
sheep grazed with seeming contentment.

[Illustration]

When I went into the cook camp, in order to get my breakfast, I
was thinking of the old plantation in Bolivar County, where, when
it rained, we had good shelter instead of being homeless in the
wilderness, as one might say.

And surely we were in a wilderness, there on the banks of the Trinity,
exposed to all the downpour, save when we crawled into one of the
wagons to shelter ourselves while mother continued her work. There is
no need that I should say the breakfast was inviting, for my mother
could cook the meanest of food in such a manner that it would appeal to
one's appetite, yet we ate as if it were a duty rather than a pleasure
to break our fast after so much watching.

When the meal was ended, father set the negroes to gathering up the
remainder of our goods that might be injured by dampness, and I, rather
than remain idle when there was so much work to be done, took part in
the task, until we had nearly everything sheltered.

The only places of refuge against the storm were the miserable shanty
we had put up so hastily and the small two-mule wagon in which father
and mother had ridden.

We were a mournful-looking company of emigrants, when, the last of the
goods having been stowed away, we sat under one of the wagon bodies,
while mother continued to work in the shanty regardless of the rain
which came in through a hundred crevices.



WAITING FOR THE SUN


The negroes gathered about father and me, in order to take advantage
of the shelter afforded by the wagon. We remained silent a full ten
minutes before father strove to cheer our spirits by suggesting that a
storm at this season of the year could not last very many hours, and
that by the following morning we should be rejoicing in the heat and
the brightness of the sun.

[Illustration]

He was at fault in this prediction, however. During the remainder of
the day we came out from the shelter now and then to make certain that
the cattle, the mules, and the sheep yet remained within the valley,
and then crept back once more to keep mournful silence, seldom breaking
it, save when the meals were ready.

The rain continued to fall steadily, and yet it was necessary we stand
guard against the coyotes, who began to howl, and scream, and bark as
soon as night came. No longer dreaming of making my fortune at sheep
raising, I went off with Zeba just before darkness covered the earth,
to begin the weary march around and around our herd of cattle and flock
of sheep. I was soon drenched to the skin, and wished that father had
never been attacked by the Texas fever.

I wondered during that long, wet, disagreeable time of watching where
the other newly arrived settlers had begun to make homes in Texas. I
knew that hundreds of families near us in Bolivar County, and from
Kentucky and Missouri, had come into this republic of Texas, and it
seemed, as I thought it over, most singular that we had failed to meet
with any of them.

The storm, the darkness, and the irritating calls of the coyotes had
so worked upon my mind that I came to believe that all the stories we
had heard of people who were to make homes in this new country had been
false. It seemed to me that we were the only persons in the United
States who had been so foolish as to venture across the Red River with
wild dreams of fertile ranches and rapidly increasing herds of cattle
or flocks of sheep.



TOO MUCH WATER


Three days passed before we again rejoiced in the light of the sun.
During that time so much discomfort and actual danger had been met that
I was sick at heart at the very sound of the name of Texas.

Before the end of the second day we had succeeded in making the cook
shanty nearly waterproof, by stripping all the wagons of their covers,
and pinning the canvas down over the pecan branches. This left our
goods exposed to the rain, and many of our belongings were necessarily
ruined, although we took little heed of that fact, if only it was
possible to give mother some degree of comfort.

[Illustration]

On the morning of the third day the valley was dotted here and there
with pools of water, showing that the soil had drunk its fill and
refused to take in more. In order to move about in the valley, it was
necessary at times to wade ankle-deep. The result was that father and
I, as well as the negroes, were forced to wear garments saturated with
water, since it would have been useless to put on dry clothes, for
after an hour of tramping to and fro they would have been in the same
wet condition. Yet we had no thought of real danger. There was in our
minds simply the painful idea that we must endure what could not be
avoided; we never dreamed that worse was to come.



THE STREAM RISING


Just before time for dinner on the third day I noticed that the sheep
were making their way rapidly up out of the valley, and, fearing lest
they might stray so far that it would be impossible to herd them before
nightfall, I followed, leaving father and the negroes crouching under
one of the wagon bodies.

[Illustration]

To my surprise, when I had walked a few yards from where we were
encamped, I found the water in many of the pools nearly ankle-deep, and
saw that the western side of the valley, that part farthest from the
stream, was literally flooded.

Strange as it may seem, neither father nor I had given any particular
heed to the rising of the stream. There was in our minds, dimly
perhaps, an idea that the amount of water had increased during this
long storm, and we were not disquieted on seeing it come up to the
height of the banks; but now, being warned by the depth of water in the
valley, I quite forgot the sheep for an instant, and ran back to where
I could have a full view of the river.

The flood was already overlapping the banks at the northern end of the
valley, a fact which accounted for the quantity of water I had found
while going toward the sheep, and I fancied it was possible to hear,
far away in the distance, a roaring noise such as a waterfall might
produce.



TRYING TO SAVE THE STOCK


Heedless of the fact that my twelve sheep were stampeded, I ran swiftly
along the edge of the stream toward the wagons, shouting wildly that a
flood was upon us. I was yet twenty or thirty yards distant when father
came out to learn why I was raising such an alarm.

It needed but one glance for him to understand that we were in the
gravest danger. Even while I ran, it was possible for me to see the
river rising, rising, until what, at the moment I set off to herd the
sheep, had been comparatively dry land, was being flooded so rapidly
that before I had gained the wagons, they were standing a full inch
deep in the water.

[Illustration]

Father ran hurriedly, with a look of alarm on his face, toward the cook
shanty and shouted for mother to make all haste, to leave everything
behind her, and to clamber into one of the wagons. Then, turning to
the negroes, he literally drove them out from their shelter, ordering
them to round up the mules without delay so we might hitch them to the
wagons. It was not necessary that I should be told to obey this command
on the instant, even though it was not directed to me. I wheeled about,
intending to turn the mules in the direction of the wagons, leaving
the slaves to bring up the harness, but while doing so, I saw that we
were too late by at least three or four minutes, for the mules, having
already taken alarm by the rising of the water, were making their way
at a quick pace up the incline which led to the higher land, following
directly behind the sheep.



THE ANIMALS STAMPEDED


Probably, if I had moved more cautiously, I might have circled around
them, and thus checked their flight until the negroes could come up;
but I was so thoroughly alarmed by the rapid rise of the water and the
ominous roaring in the distance, that I set off at full speed directly
toward the animals, and in a twinkling they broke into a gallop,
stampeding the sheep by plunging among them.

As if this was not sufficient disaster, the cattle, which had been
feeding fully a mile farther down the valley, now wheeled suddenly
about in alarm, and set off over the ridge, bellowing with fear, their
tails swinging high in the air.

So unreasoning was I in the sudden fright which had come upon me,
that I failed to realize it would be useless to pursue any of our live
stock, until father shouted for me to turn back without loss of time.
His voice, even though he was no more than two hundred yards away, came
dimly to my ears because of the increasing roar in the distance, which
sounded more and more threatening each instant.

[Illustration]

When I gathered my wits about me sufficiently to obey the command, I
saw that he, with the negroes, was striving desperately to haul one of
the heavy wagons from the bank of the stream; but so sodden with water
was the earth that the wheels sank into the soft surface to the depth
of two or three inches, and, struggle as they might, it could not be
moved a single pace.



SAVING OUR OWN LIVES


[Illustration]

"Gather up the spare clothing, and take your mother with you!" father
shouted as I came up to where the black men were standing dumbly by the
side of the wagon they had so vainly attempted to haul. I cried out
dully, grown stupid with fear, asking where I should go with mother;
but even while speaking, I had sufficient common sense remaining to
pull out from among our belongings as many water-soaked garments as I
could get my hands on.

"Go to the high land!" father shouted, and literally dragged mother
out from her seat in the wagon, where she had been crouching since the
water flooded the cook camp. She had her wits about her sufficiently to
understand what father would have us do. Calling on me to follow, she
took from my arms a portion of the burden and set off straight across
that increasing flood of water in the direction taken by the animals.
She realized that they, prompted by instinct, would lead the way to the
highest point of land.

Thus we two, mother and I, abandoned father and all our belongings, and
it surely seemed as if we were leaving him to a terrible fate. I would
have come to a full stop in order to urge him to follow us, but mother
called out that I should not slacken pace. She said that he knew better
than we what should be done, and that he would follow without loss of
time.

It seemed to me that we had no sooner gained the top of the bank, and
from there the highest point of one of the prairie hills, when, looking
around, I saw father and the negroes coming at full speed, as if
fleeing from death itself. And this really was the case, as I saw a few
seconds later. I would have run toward the edge of the valley in the
hope of helping them, but mother held me back.



A RAGING TORRENT


[Illustration]

The roar of the coming flood was deafening. Father and the slaves were
yet clambering up the side of the valley when I saw, coming down the
channel of the river, a raging torrent which bore on its surface trunks
of trees such as would have dealt death to any one who might have been
in their line of advance. On the waters were fragments of wood, bunches
of mesquite bushes, and I fancied now and then the body of an ox; but
it was all a scene of confusion, of noise, and of menace.

During perhaps ten seconds I felt certain father would be swept away
by the raging stream which was filling the valley. The torrent swelled
until the crest of the muddy waves swept against Zeba's legs, for he
was the last of that little company struggling to save his life. Not
one moment too soon did father and the negroes gain the high land. They
were hardly in safety when all our valley was filled with water, and I
knew that beneath the flood was everything we owned in the world save
the live stock.

Father came swiftly on until he stood by mother's side, clasping both
her hands. But he spoke not a word, and I realized that we had come
from Bolivar County with all our belongings only to have them swept
away, and that we were destitute.

As I saw a huge pecan tree, tossing and rolling on the brown waves, I
asked myself if such a monster could be thrown about like a straw, what
must become of our wagons in the valley?



A TIME OF DISASTER


It was much like mockery to see the clouds breaking away immediately
after all the mischief had been done. Before we had been upon the high
land ten minutes the clouds gave way here and there, until we could see
a glint of the sun. The rain ceased falling, and he would have been a
poor weather prophet indeed who could not have foretold that the long
storm had come to an end; but, as I said bitterly to myself, it had
brought with it the end of all our dreams.

[Illustration]

The cattle, mules, and sheep had stampeded. Far away in the distance
I could see that little flock of mine, and yet farther beyond them,
barely to be distinguished by the naked eye, were the cattle.

The mules had disappeared entirely, and I, who was ignorant of a
ranchman's work, believed for the moment that we had seen the last of
every head of stock and that we could never round them up again.

I looked to see father overwhelmed with sorrow, and, therefore, great
was my surprise when I heard him say cheerily:--

"It is well that we had this experience early in our Texan life, else
the disaster might have been greater. Now we know it would be in the
highest degree unwise to build our home in the valley, for if the
stream rises in flood once, it will again, and we might lose our lives.
It will not require any great length of time for us to make good the
damage that has been done."

It almost vexed me that he should speak so lightly of what seemed to me
a disaster which could not be repaired. When I asked how matters might
possibly be worse, he replied laughingly that we were still alive,
our stock would not stray so far but that we could soon herd them up,
and there were many things in the wagons which would not be seriously
harmed by the wetting.

To this day I am inclined to believe he put the best face possible upon
the matter, so that mother might not grieve, and certainly his cheery
words helped us all. What was more to the purpose, the fact that he
set each one some task to perform prevented us from dwelling upon the
possibilities of the future.



THE FLOOD SUBSIDING


The storm had cleared away like magic; within half an hour from the
time our valley was flooded and the rain had ceased falling, the sun
was shining brightly. The waters were no longer rising, and I did not
need father to tell me they must, as a matter of course, subside quite
as quickly as they had come.

[Illustration]

Already I fancied that the tide was falling and that the torrent swept
past with less force. I would have stood idly watching it, but that
father insisted I should go with him and the negroes to a motte of
pecans a short distance away, there to set about putting up a shelter
for mother's comfort.

It was well we were forced to work to the utmost of our power, and
so we did. When night came, mother at least had a shelter over her
head. The black men and I were content to lie down anywhere beneath
the mesquite bushes, and there we slept soundly as if no disaster had
overtaken us. There was no need of standing guard against the wolves,
for we no longer had anything save ourselves to watch over.

When I expressed my fear that the wolves might kill the greater number
of our sheep, father insisted that there was more than a possibility
that all the flock would be found; and he promised that if any were
killed during the night, he would make my loss good from his own share
of the flock.



A JACK RABBIT


When I awoke the first rays of the sun were falling through the
mesquite bushes fairly upon my face. A jack rabbit, his long ears
flapping comically as he humped across the prairie, stopped when he was
nearly opposite the motte of pecans to wonder who these people were,
who had come to disturb him. This was the first object to meet my gaze,
and however great might have been the sorrow in my heart, I could not
have kept from laughing long and loud at the ridiculous creature.

I soon saw, however, that his clownish appearance was not to be counted
strongly against him, for, startled by my rising quickly, he darted
away with the fleetness of a deer. I question whether, if my rifle had
been at that moment in my hands ready for use, I could have done more
than take aim before he was out of sight among the bushes.

[Illustration]

Then came a cheery good morning, as I interpreted it, from a chaparral
cock, and I fancied it was the same fellow who had welcomed us to the
valley. Following this friendly morning greeting came the screaming of
a bird which I afterward knew was called a killdeer. I was wondrously
cheered by the sight and sounds of life around.



REPAIRING DAMAGES


[Illustration]

Then came the work of the day, the first for me being to build a fire,
even though there was nothing to be cooked. It had been my duty at
home in Bolivar County to perform this service, and unwittingly I did
it then, not remembering the fact that all our provisions were at the
bottom of that brown flood. Mother asked, as she came out from her poor
shelter, why I thought it necessary to start a blaze. I looked dumbly
back at the valley which we had left in such haste, and to my surprise
saw the tops of the wagons just appearing above the surface of the
water, so rapidly had the torrent subsided. Father said laughingly, as
if it was a matter which amused him exceedingly:--

"We will wait for breakfast until we can get a side of bacon from one
of the wagons, unless you, Philip, are inclined to dive beneath the
water for one."

It was evident we were to have little to eat during that day if we
depended upon rescuing anything eatable from the flood. So I suddenly
determined that I would not be outdone by father in cheerfulness and
proposed that John go with me in search of the cattle.

"I am thinking all of us must take a hand in that work," father said.
Then turning to mother, he asked if she would be willing to remain
there among the pecan trees alone while we roamed the prairie in search
of the cattle.

It was a useless question, for my mother was a woman who always stood
ready to do that which came to her hand, regardless of her own pleasure
or inclination.



ROUNDING UP THE LIVE STOCK


We set off at once, hungry as we were, on what I thought would be a
useless journey. I was prepared to tramp all day, if necessary, without
getting sight of a single animal belonging to us, and yet, greatly to
my surprise, an hour before noon we came upon the entire flock of sheep
with never a one missing. They were feeding as peacefully as if they
had been herded by a better shepherd than I ever claimed to be.

Gyp, who had kept close to my heels from the time the waters first
came down upon us, now seemed to recover his spirits. For the first
time since we had been forced to flee for our lives he gave vent to a
series of joyful barks, running around and around the flock as if he
had been ordered to do so.

Father proposed that Gyp and I return with the flock to where mother
was waiting, while he and the negroes continued in search of the cattle
and mules. Against this I was not inclined to make any protest, for it
had worried me not a little because she was alone, although I failed to
understand how any harm could come to her.

[Illustration]

When the afternoon was about half spent, the negroes that father had
hired as mule drivers came in with all our herd of oxen and cows. They
reported that father, with John and Zeba, had kept on having seen the
mules far away in the distance, and it was reasonable to suppose they
would return to us before night had set in. This they did not do,
however, and mother and I were troubled because of their absence, yet
we could do nothing but sit there, idly watching the sheep and gazing
down now and then into the valley to mark the ebb of the waters.

[Illustration]



THE FIRST MEAL AFTER THE FLOOD


Half an hour before sunset, when the wagons stood out plainly in view,
with the flood hardly more than up to their axles, I called upon the
negroes to follow me, and we set out to look among our belongings for
something to eat.

After searching about we came upon a side of bacon, which looked but
little the worse for its long bath, save that it was coated in a most
unpleasant fashion with mud. Thinking it impossible for us to find any
other thing in condition for eating until after it had been well dried,
we turned to the grove of pecans with our small prize.

I built a fire near where mother's shelter of branches and leaves had
been set up. Then from the mesquite bushes I cut twigs which would
serve as forks to hold the meat in front of the blaze. After this I
carved the bacon with the knife from my belt, and mother broiled slice
after slice, the savory odor causing me to realize how exceedingly
hungry I was.

We ate heartily, almost greedily. When our hunger had been partly
satisfied, we sat down to await the coming of father, speculating upon
his prolonged absence, until we had imagined that all sorts of evil had
befallen him.



WAITING FOR FATHER


He who crosses a bridge before he comes to it, or, in other words, the
man or the lad who looks into the future for trouble, proves himself to
be foolish, for all the worry of mind one may suffer will not change
events by so much as a hair's breadth.

[Illustration]

If mother and I had remained there talking of this thing or of that
which had happened in Bolivar County, and not looking out across the
prairie with the idea that harm had befallen father, then the evening
might have been a pleasant one; but instead, we were almost distracted
with fear, until about midnight, when the trampling of hoofs in the
distance told us that the mules had been rounded up.

It seemed strange to me, when father and the negroes came into camp,
bringing the mules with them, that in the stampede we had not lost a
single animal. Every ox, cow, mule, and sheep that had been with us in
the valley before the flood was now returned and herded in front of the
pecan motte as peacefully as though nothing had occurred. But not far
away we could hear the snarling, shrieking, and barking of the coyotes
which served almost to make it seem as if that flood had been no more
than a disagreeable dream.

That night the hired negroes and I stood watch. Father, John, and Zeba
had traveled so far afoot, and were so weary that I could not have the
heart to rouse them when it came time for our relief from duty, and so
we paced around the herds and flock until daylight.

When the first rays of the sun glinted all the foliage around us with
gold, it was possible for me to look down into the valley from which we
had fled, and get some slight idea of the misfortune that had overtaken
us.

Because of the weight of the wagons, and owing to the fact that they
were heavily laden with farming tools and such things as would not
float, they had hardly been disturbed. Also, owing, I suppose, in a
great degree, to their being sunk so far in the mud after the first
onrush of the torrent, they had not been knocked about to any extent.



RECOVERING OUR GOODS


As a matter of course everything, including the grass, was covered with
mud; but the water, except here and there where it stood in small pools
on the surface, had retreated to its proper place between the banks,
and there was nothing to prevent us from caring for our goods.

[Illustration]

Mother cooked all that was left of the bacon, after which, with hunger
still gnawing at our stomachs, we went down to set our belongings to
rights, and a wearisome day it was.

The harness of the mules had been swept downstream so far that we
did not come upon any portion of it until the day was nearly done.
Therefore, we could not make any effort toward dragging the wagons to
the hard ground, but were forced to carry in our hands every article
which it was necessary to spread out upon the clean grass to dry.

About nightfall, after having found enough harness for one team of
mules, we succeeded in getting a single cart up to where mother's
camp had been made. Then it began to look as if we had really taken
possession of this portion of Texas, for all around were spread
clothing, bedding, household furniture, farming tools, and this thing
and that which went to make up the cargo we had brought from Bolivar
County.

The wagon covers which had been spread over our cook camp had floated
down the stream beyond the possibility of our finding them before
another day. Therefore, that night, my mother slept once more in her
shelter of branches and leaves; father and I made a bed for ourselves
in the water-soaked wagon; and the negroes, or such of them as were not
on duty guarding the cattle, lay down on the ground beneath it.



SETTING TO WORK IN GOOD EARNEST


From this on we had plenty with which to occupy our hands as well as
our minds. There was ever the necessity of keeping the cattle rounded
up, the sheep herded, and the mules from straying, and all this was the
more difficult because they were now on the prairie instead of in the
valley.

[Illustration]

Father was determined that his first work in this new country should be
the building of a house, and very shortly after the flood subsided, I
understood what he meant, when he spoke of my taking a hand in getting
out the lumber.

First, as a matter of course, we hauled the other wagons out of the
valley, making a small corral with them near the pecan motte where we
had decided to build a home. Then we hunted during a full day along
the banks of the river for such of our belongings as had been carried
away by the flood, and found everything of value before the search was
ended.

Two of the negroes were told off to guard the flock and the herd,
either father or I keeping a sharp eye on them meanwhile, lest they
should neglect their duties. After the ground plan of our house was
staked out, father blazed such of the trees as he decided must be
felled in order to provide us with lumber.

The negroes were set at work cutting these down, while father made his
preparations for that sawmill which amused me before it was finished,
and caused my back and arms to ache sorely before it had fully served
its purpose.



SAWING OUT LUMBER


Perhaps you may not be able to understand how we could convert the
trunks of trees into lumber without a sawmill, nor did I at first; but,
as I have said, I soon came to have a very clear and painful idea of
how it might be done.

First a deep trench eight or ten feet long, and perhaps four feet wide,
was dug in the prairie near where the trees had been felled. At either
end of this trench, standing perhaps three feet above the surface, was
a scaffolding of small timbers.

When the first tree was down and had been trimmed of its branches, all
hands were called to raise it up on these two scaffolds, and there it
lay, each end projecting four or five feet beyond the uprights.

[Illustration]

Directly over this, at one end, was a small, movable platform, as I may
call it, constructed of the trees which could not be used for building
purposes, and of such a height that he who stood upon it would be no
less than three feet above the log which lay upon the scaffolding.

When this was done, father brought out from our belongings a long saw,
such as we of Bolivar County called a crosscut. It had long teeth
which were set up at wide angles, so that it would make a broad cut
without being in danger of binding between the sides of the log. This
saw was perhaps six feet long, and provided with a handle at each end
projecting out on both sides of the blade in such a manner that one
could seize it with both his hands.

Then I began to have a very good idea of how timber might be produced
without a mill, for father, directing me to stand in the pit while
he took his station on the platform above, made the first cut with
the saw. After it had fairly been started in the groove I was called
upon to work at the lower end of it, alternately pushing and pulling,
while father did the same. Thus the sharp teeth were forced through
the wood, slowly to be sure, but none the less steadily, and as we cut
board after board the log was pushed forward or pulled back on the
scaffolding so that we might not cut into the scaffolds. You may well
fancy that I was not much pleased at thus being forced to do my share
in getting out material for the house.



LABORING IN THE SAW PIT


Sheep herding is none too pleasant a task; but as compared with this
hand sawmill of ours it seemed like positive pleasure. I said to
myself that I would never again complain of the hardships of herding a
flock on no matter how large a range, because the memory of this method
of working out lumber would always remain fresh in my mind.

[Illustration]

I was not in the pit very many hours during the day. One of the negroes
was called to take my place at intervals; but we could not well trust
this work, rough and arduous though it was, to the black men because of
their carelessness. Once, when we left two of them alone while father
and I helped mother with the family washing at the bank of the creek,
we found that the stupid fellows, instead of sawing the board the same
thickness all the way along, had made it thin in one place and thick in
another, until it was practically useless for building purposes.



WILD CATTLE


Before we had worked out by this slow process all the lumber that would
be necessary for making our home, we were surprised to find that our
herd of cattle had been increased by three handsome beasts, two cows
and a bull, black as coals, with glistening, long, white horns.

[Illustration]

They suddenly appeared among our herd, causing me, who first discovered
them, the greatest possible surprise. It seemed almost like some work
of magic that we should have gained these fellows without raising a
hand. Thinking that they might be branded, as is the custom in Texas,
I tried to come near enough to find out, but I soon understood that I
might as well have tried to make close acquaintance with the shiest
antelope that ever crossed the prairie.

These cattle were so wild that at the first sight of a man they would
toss up their horns, bellow, and set off across the country with their
tails raised high as a signal of danger, putting the very spirit of
mischief into our cattle.

After making two or three vain attempts to come up with them, I
realized that unless I would take the chances of stampeding our whole
herd, I must leave them alone.

When I told father of the wonderful discovery that we had grown the
richer by three cattle, he treated the matter very calmly and explained
the seeming mystery by saying that we were not the only persons who
had found additions to their live stock, for during his first visit to
Texas he had heard much concerning such cattle.

During the years from 1834 to 1836, when the Mexican army was
retreating, the Indians ravaged the country between the Nueces and
the Rio Grande to such extent that the Mexicans, owners and herdsmen,
abandoned their stock ranches, leaving behind them large herds of
cattle which could not be carried away save at great risk, and these
beasts had since then multiplied rapidly.



A DISAGREEABLE INTRUDER


The officers of the Texan army had been accustomed to send mounted men
into the abandoned country, driving out the cattle for the use of the
army and thus supplying the troops with meat at no other expense than
that of searching for it, until there were no longer large herds to be
seen. Now and then, however, as in our case, a ranchman would suddenly
find three or four, or possibly a dozen, among his own herd.

[Illustration]

Father was not much pleased at this addition to his stock, for those
black fellows were so wild, having ranged the country as they willed
during eight or ten years, that they played the mischief with the tame
cattle, as I had already seen. At the slightest cause of alarm, they
would set off in mad flight, and thus stampede the quietest herd that
was ever rounded up.

"To-morrow we will shoot that bull," father said, "if it can be done
without making too much trouble among our own cattle. Then perhaps
the cows will quiet down a bit, and find it more agreeable to behave
themselves than to run races across the prairie without cause."

Half an hour before daylight next morning father and I, with plenty of
ammunition, set off alone to do our best at cutting the wild bull out
from the herd, and ending his career with a rifle ball.

We left our camp, without waiting for breakfast, believing in our
ignorance that the hunt would not be long; but very shortly after it
began we understood that we had more of a task on our hands than had
been anticipated.

To get within rifle shot of the herd seemed for a long time an
impossibility. No sooner would we come in sight of the animals than up
would go their tails and away across the prairie all the cattle would
dash as if suddenly grown wild.



ODD HUNTING


Then it was necessary to creep up on them, stalking the huge creatures
as carefully as we might have hunted deer; but so wild were they that
the least incautious movement when we were creeping through the grass,
wriggling along like snakes, would provoke a snort of terror, and away
the whole herd would go again.

More than once I urged father to turn back, saying we might drive our
own cattle entirely across the republic of Texas, and finally lose
them, if we continued our efforts. I pointed out to him that already
we were at least five or six miles from home and had not had our
breakfast; but he replied grimly that if we would save our own stock,
it was necessary to put an end to the career of that black bull, who
seemed possessed by the spirit of mischief, or the tame cattle might
grow so wild it would be impossible to herd them.

[Illustration]

We made our way slowly at times, and again we ran swiftly if there was
no danger of being seen by the beasts, for not less than fifteen miles,
when we came to a pecan grove in which we hid ourselves, with the idea
of resting from the exertion of the chase.

While we sat there concealed by the foliage, the very animal we were
so eager to kill led the herd directly toward us. He kept on feeding
leisurely twenty or thirty paces in advance of the others, and sniffing
the air with each mouthful.

Fortunately for us the wind was blowing directly from him toward the
pecan motte, and therefore he failed to scent any danger.

On he came, slowly at first, as handsome a beast as I ever saw. When
he had ventured thus unsuspiciously within perhaps half a rifle shot,
father whispered to me that I should take careful aim, either at the
bull's neck or just behind the fore shoulder, and when he gave the
signal, I was to fire.

It seemed to me that the two shots rang out at the same instant, for
they sounded like one, and the black bull pitched forward on his knees
as if struck by lightning. A second later he had rolled over dead, and
the work was finished, save the walk of fifteen miles before it would
be possible to satisfy our hunger.



A SUPPLY OF FRESH MEAT


We covered the carcass with the branches of the pecan trees as well as
possible, in order to keep the wolves and the turkey buzzards away,
for even though we had been here but a short time, I had learned
that anything eatable left exposed on the prairie, particularly
fresh meat, would soon be devoured by the noisy coyotes or those
unwholesome-looking birds. Then we set out on our return to the home
camp, leaving the cattle to recover from the fright caused by the
report of our rifles as best they might.

[Illustration]

When we arrived, at about three o'clock in the afternoon, father set
one of the negroes to harnessing two mules to the small wagon, and
announced that I was to go back with a couple of the men to bring in
our game, for we could not well afford to lose so much fresh meat.

The day had been a long one before I found opportunity to crawl into my
bed, for it was near midnight when we got back with the carcass of the
bull.

When I opened my eyes next morning, I remembered the saw pit, believing
I must spend another day at the slow task of making boards and joists
from green wood, but father was at work cutting the carcass of the bull
into thin strips, while John and Zeba were building a little scaffold
on the prairie a short distance from mother's shelter.



"JERKING" BEEF


This was the first process towards "jerking" beef, or, in other words,
drying it in the sun, a method of preserving meat which I fancy has
come down to us from the Indians. Before the morning was spent I
discovered that there are more disagreeable tasks than that of pushing
a crosscut saw up and then pulling it down.

Before all the meat had been cut into thin ribbons and hung on the
scaffolding, we were covered with blood, and on the topmost branches
of the pecans sat a dozen or more of those miserable turkey buzzards,
awaiting an opportunity to come down and eat what was left of the
carcass. It was necessary to keep as close a watch over those birds as
we did over the wolves, else all our labor would have been speedily
devoured. When there was an opportunity for a much-needed bath, father
allowed no more than two of us to go into the stream at a time,
obliging the others to remain where they might stand guard over the
meat.

[Illustration]

When night came, the ribbons of flesh were not wholly cured and we
found it necessary to gather them up and store them in one of the
wagons lest the dew spoil the flesh; in the morning we hung all the
thin strips out again, standing over them jealously.

It seemed to me just then as if all our days and nights in Texas were
to be spent standing guard over something. During the night we were
forced to watch lest the wolves devour our sheep, and during the day we
had to keep a careful eye over the turkey buzzards who seemed on the
verge of starvation all the time. In addition to this labor, it was
necessary to perform the regular work on the ranch, and thus it may be
seen that we did not have much time for idling.



SEARCHING FOR THE CATTLE AGAIN


The next day father sent out two of the negroes to search for our
cattle, believing it would be useless for us to make any attempt at
herding them until after they had had ample time to quiet down from the
alarm caused by the chase and the killing of the bull.

The black men were absent from the camp twenty hours before coming back
with all the herd, and to have heard these negroes complain, one might
have thought that they had walked a full hundred miles. According to
their story they traveled a long, long distance before coming upon the
herd, and then they found it extremely difficult to drive the beasts in
toward the Trinity River, because the two wild cows made every effort
to stampede the herd whenever the negroes came in sight.

Perhaps I do not need to set down in detail all that we did during this
first season on the Trinity, but I will tell what we accomplished.



OUR NEW HOME


[Illustration]

First, and next to the raising of sheep, the most important matter to
me was the building of the house. This we did, working at odd times
when not engaged in planting, and seeing to it that never an hour
was wasted, either by ourselves or by the negroes. When the work was
finished, truly we had a building of which to be proud, for this new
home seemed quite as fine as the one we had left in Bolivar County.

It was built throughout of sawed lumber; the roof was made of a double
thickness of boards, and the crevices on the sides of the house
covered with the first strips taken from the trunks of the trees, with
the bark still remaining; but this did not, in my eyes, detract from
the general appearance of the whole.

Perhaps it was because I had labored so hard and so long on this home
of ours, that it appeared so beautiful in my sight. At all events,
it was most convenient, as even mother admitted. We had one room on
the front, overlooking the river, and back of that a storeroom and a
kitchen, which, if not exactly fit for a king, served our purposes very
well.

In the loft, which of course was directly under the roof, we had our
beds, mother, father, and I. Just behind the building, or, I should
say, on the other side of the pecan motte, was a small hut built of
round logs for the two negroes. We had sent back on foot those men whom
father hired to drive the teams; therefore when our house was finished
and the season at an end, only John and Zeba remained to aid in the
labor of the ranch.



PLANTING, AND BUILDING CORRALS


We had planted no less than three acres of corn and potatoes, all of
which promised a bountiful harvest, and gave token of yielding two or
three times as much as we could have hoped for on the richest of the
Mississippi bottoms.

In addition to the dwellings, we had built a large pen for the sheep,
made of mesquite bushes stuck so firmly into the ground that the
coyotes would not dare attempt to force a passage through.

[Illustration]

We also had smaller pens for the sheep with lambs, perhaps a dozen or
more of them; for, as you know, the mother sheep very often will not
take kindly to her young, and it is necessary either to tie her up, or
put her in some small inclosure with the little fellow, during two or
three days, until she becomes acquainted with him and is willing to
admit that he belongs to her.

During the season the last work done by the negroes was the splitting
of rails. With these and with the wagons, we made a corral for the
mules, where they could be inclosed at night, or whenever there was
promise of a norther which might stampede them. For those fierce storms
came, as it seemed to me, very often.



BAR-O RANCH


As for the oxen and cows, they were still allowed to roam over the
prairie. We could not well provide them with a corral, because cattle
often feed at night, and must have plenty of room in which to roam; but
we took good care that they were branded, father using as his mark a
big letter O with a line drawn across the middle.

[Illustration]

Because of this brand I decided we would call our new home the Bar-O
Ranch, and to-day I venture to say it is as well known in the state of
Texas as any other, even though we may not number our cattle by the
thousands, as do the more wealthy cattle raisers.

During all that season we had but two visitors, and how they chanced to
stray down our way so far off the trail I was curious to learn. They
were Mexicans, each driving a cart of home manufacture, which was the
oddest contrivance I had ever seen.



AN ODD CART


The wheels are about seven feet high, made of three pieces of plank
perhaps three inches thick, the middle one being the widest, and the
two outsides quite narrow, the whole being rounded into the shape of a
wheel.

The axle on which it is hung, for the carts are built somewhat after
the fashion of a gig, is nothing more than a straight stick of timber
with the ends rounded off to fit into holes cut through the center of
the wheels.

On this axle, fastened to it by wooden pins and strips of rawhide, is
the body of the cart, formed of timbers no less than three or four
inches square. The tongue, to which the oxen are yoked, is only a
straight piece of heavy hickory bound to the axle with thongs and pins
in the most awkward manner possible.

Take it all in all, it is as heavy, as ill-contrived, and as odd a
vehicle as one can imagine. Because of its exceeding great weight, the
Mexicans cannot carry very heavy loads, and, because there are no hubs
to the wheels and because the owners of the carts use little or no
grease, it is possible at times to hear the creaking of the huge wheels
a mile or more away.

[Illustration]

If a Mexican cart is an ill-looking contrivance, then surely the yoke
for the oxen fully matches it, for it is nothing more than a piece of
timber, the edges rounded somewhat so they may not chafe the animals'
necks, laid directly behind the horns, and lashed there firmly with
thongs of rawhide. It is made fast to the tongue of the cart in the
same awkward manner. It must cause the beasts much discomfort, and
certainly the strongest oxen are unable to pull half as much of a load
as when a yoke with a smooth bow is properly adjusted around the necks.



THE VISITORS


[Illustration]

These Mexicans, who were driving two oxen to each cart, claimed to be
going to Fort Towson after certain goods which were to be left there
for them; but I doubted the statements made, as did father, for they
had their unwieldy vehicles partly filled with packages five or six
feet long, wrapped in what looked like tow cloth, and we afterward
learned that these were probably muskets being sent to the northern
border to be sold to the Indians.

These strangers were decked out in most fanciful costumes, with
scarf-like blankets of gaudy colors thrown over their shoulders, simply
by way of ornament. They could speak only a few words of English,
making their wants known mostly by gestures.

They asked if they might make camp near our house. Such a request was
not to be refused, for they might have done as they pleased. Father
would not have had the heart to drive them away, for the prairie, even
though staked out as a homestead, is free to all travelers.



ZEBA'S CURIOSITY


That evening Zeba's curiosity, like my own, was aroused by the sight of
those bundles in the carts, which seemed heavy, as could be told when
the Mexicans unyoked the oxen. He therefore loitered around trying to
find an opportunity of learning what was inside the wrappings of tow;
but before he succeeded in getting his hands on one of the packages,
the Mexican drove him away with threats that I fancy would have been
blood-curdling had we understood the Spanish language.

Their behavior toward Zeba, who thus far had done no more than stand
idly by the side of one of the carts looking in, as a negro will when
his curiosity is aroused, caused father to suspect that there was
something wrong with the men, and that their approaching Fort Towson
by way of the West Fork of the Trinity was not an accident, but rather
done by design, that they might avoid the beaten lines of travel.

[Illustration]

Therefore during the night that they remained in camp near us, both he
and I stood guard, for while we had not heard very much concerning the
troubles with Mexicans and Indians which the settlers on the western
border were having, we knew the people of Mexico had no good will
toward us who came from the States; although why that should have been
the case I have never succeeded in learning.



POSSIBLE TREACHERY


On thinking it over, there appears to be good reason why the natives
should be the enemies of those who have settled in Texas, for this
republic was forcibly taken from the Mexican government at the cost of
much bloodshed, and it would be strange indeed if they looked upon us
in a friendly manner after that.

Even if they had not had so much territory taken from them, the
Mexicans surely had good reason for unfriendliness when they remembered
the battle of San Jacinto, to say nothing of the other engagements
which gave independence to the republic of Texas.

Father has always held that when the Comanche Indians overran Texas in
1840, they were urged on by the Mexicans, who hoped to get back their
territory, and perhaps believed that the savages would work such ruin
to the republic as to make it easily conquered.



SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR


Under pretense of guarding against the coyotes, and preventing the
cattle from straying, father and I moved here and there in the vicinity
of the house during the entire night, and I took note that one or
the other of those teamsters was on the alert whenever we came near
them, which fact caused father's suspicions to increase rather than
diminish, and we were thankful indeed when, at an early hour next
morning, they took their departure.

[Illustration]

Five or six weeks later, however, when we had fairly good proof that
they were carrying muskets and, perhaps, ammunition to the Indians in
order that an attack might be made on us settlers, father regretted
that he had not demanded to know what the fellows had in their carts.

When I asked him what he would have done if he had discovered that they
were carrying weapons, he said most emphatically that, knowing the
Indians on the border were in a state of unrest, he would have taken
it upon himself to stop the fellows at the point of the rifle, and
would have sent me to Fort Towson, even though I might have been forced
to go alone, in order to learn what disposition should be made of them.

Mother said that it was fortunate for us that we had not done any such
wild thing, for if the fellows had resisted our attempts to search
their carts, and resorted to weapons, then we might have come out
second best, for no dependence could be put in John and Zeba in event
of a downright fight, for they were more cowardly than any other slaves
I had ever seen.



GYP'S FIGHT WITH A COUGAR


Gyp and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves hunting. He was not a dog
trained for game, but he had so much good sound common sense that
immediately after we had treed and killed our first wildcat, he entered
into the sport as if he had been always accustomed to it.

Gyp was more like a comrade than like a brute. With the game as
abundant as it then was on the West Fork of the Trinity, you can be
assured that he and I, after the hardest of the work had been done, and
when the sheep were not needing care, had some rare sport.

It was my ambition to kill what is called a Mexican lion, or cougar.
I knew there were several prowling around, having seen their tracks;
once I came in full view of one when he was making a dash for a sheep
and a lamb which had strayed some distance from the flock.

[Illustration]

Gyp and I hunted, day in and day out, without success, until one
morning by accident we almost stumbled over one of the fellows. In a
twinkling the cougar and the dog were fighting desperately, while I
ran around and around them, fearing to shoot lest I should kill Gyp,
but knowing it was necessary to do something without delay.

The two were rolling and leaping about, each with his teeth fastened
upon the other, as you have seen two bulldogs fight, but for the life
of me I could not get a fair chance to press the muzzle of my rifle
against the brute's head.

Finding Gyp was getting the worst of the battle, and forgetting the
danger, I whipped out the knife which always hung at my belt. Holding
it between my teeth and taking advantage of the first opportunity, I
seized that villainous cougar by the neck, and held him in such a grip
that he was half choked and forced to loosen his hold upon the dog.
This gave Gyp the opportunity he wanted to fasten upon the animal's
throat.



IN A DANGEROUS POSITION


Gyp, however, was not sufficiently strong to win the battle unaided,
and I had all I could do to retain my hold upon the beast's neck, not
daring for a single instant to let go with one hand in order to use the
knife. Consequently there I stood, clutching the back of the cougar,
while Gyp snarled and tore at his throat without doing much execution.

It was just when I said to myself I could not retain my hold many
seconds longer, and the beast might turn upon me, once my grip was
slackened, that father came in sight. Then, as you can fancy, the
battle was speedily ended. He picked up my rifle from the ground where
I had dropped it, and holding the muzzle against the brute's ear, fired
with such effect that on the instant the cougar ceased to struggle.

[Illustration]

But it was not always necessary that some other should interfere when
Gyp and I were waging war against the beasts that would have done
injury to the flock. We killed so many coyotes before the season had
come to an end that we ceased to think of it as any very great feat,
and save for the fact that we always took the wolf's hide, made no more
of slaying one than we did of knocking over a jack rabbit.



HUNTING WILD HOGS


Having killed a cougar and scores upon scores of wolves, it was my
desire to come across a drove of peccaries, as the wild hogs of Texas
and Mexico are called. One day, when Zeba told me he had seen a drove
of fifteen or twenty near the river, I set off without delay, Gyp at my
heels, intending to bring back one or more that we might have a store
of salt pork for the winter. Little did I dream what kind of animals I
was going against!

We set off early in the morning, Gyp and I, and it seemed as if I had
traveled at least seven miles before I came upon any signs of the wild
hogs.

When I knew that a large number were close at hand, I began stalking
them as I would a herd of deer. If I had known a little more about
those vicious animals, I would have understood that at any show of
enmity on my part I would bring them down upon me.

In fact, this was what I really did, although unwittingly. I supposed
that such game, like others, would take to their heels at the first
report of the rifle, and all I might succeed in getting would be at the
first shot. Therefore I stole up toward the herd with the greatest
caution, spending no less than an hour crawling through the mesquite
bushes toward where I heard the little fellows grunting and squealing
as they rooted among the decaying leaves for food.

No hunter could have asked for a better shot than I had. With a single
ball I killed one of the peccaries, and wounded two others in such a
manner that I had no doubt but that I could quickly bring them down.
I began to reload the rifle, ordering Gyp to remain at my heels so he
might not unduly alarm the drove. Hardly had I poured in the powder and
rammed it home, when like a whirlwind all that drove of hogs charged
through the mesquite bushes, and in the instant I was fleeing for my
life.

Now it may seem odd that a fellow nearly thirteen years old should
run away from a drove of hogs: but let me tell you that these were no
ordinary animals, as my experience taught me. They were about half the
size of a full-grown hog with very sharp snouts, wicked-looking tusks
protruding from either side of the mouth, and long, slim legs, which
told that they were fitted for a race.



TREED BY PECCARIES


It is not to be supposed I gave particular heed to those
characteristics while the peccaries were charging upon me, it was
afterward, when I had an opportunity of seeing the dead animals at my
leisure, that I noted their size and shape.

[Illustration]

When they came at full speed toward me, with gnashing of teeth and
grunts of anger, I said to myself that I would sooner be confronted by
two cougars than by such a drove, and, realizing on the instant that
there was little chance for me to escape by flight, I sought refuge in
a small pecan tree which stood near at hand.

[Illustration]

It was well I moved quickly, for the foremost of the drove thrust at me
viciously with his tusks, tearing off the bottom of my moccasin as I
climbed up the tree and strove to take my rifle with me.

In an instant the hair on Gyp's back stood straight up, and he braced
himself as if for a battle. Now despite the fact that I had had no
acquaintance with peccaries, I understood at a single glance that he
would have little show against their tusks, and therefore I shouted for
him to go home.

The last of the hogs were charging down upon us when I repeated the
order, and it was fortunate indeed for Gyp that he had learned to obey
instantly any command I gave, although it was plain to be seen that he
did not do so willingly.



GYP'S OBEDIENCE


Despite my sharp words Gyp stood irresolute half a minute perhaps,
and I thought he was about to spring upon the foe. I shouted yet more
sternly, and the good dog wheeled about in a manner which told that he
highly disapproved of my forcing him to turn his back upon an enemy,
and trotted away.

The peccaries turned to follow him, whereupon I broke one of the
stoutest branches within my reach and flung it among the drove as a
challenge for them to turn their attention upon me and to give Gyp an
opportunity to escape.

It seemed to me then that you need no more than a tone of defiance to
provoke a row with peccaries, for when the branch hit the leader of the
drove, he turned, with an angry grunt and snort, to face me. Following
his example, the remainder of the drove saw me plainly as I leaned over
in full view.

[Illustration]

If, before we left Bolivar County, any one had told me I would flee
for my life before a drove of hogs, and then allow myself to be held
prisoner by them, I would have laughed heartily, and yet such was the
case now.

The vicious little animals crowded against the trunk of the tree,
leaping up as if hoping to get a hold upon me, and tearing off huge
pieces of the bark in their efforts.

At first I was not inclined to believe the situation very serious, and
said to myself that it was an opportunity to lay in as much fresh pork
as we could use during the winter season. I therefore loaded my rifle
leisurely and prepared to slaughter the entire drove.



MY CARELESSNESS


I fired two shots, bringing down a hog with each bullet. Then, through
clumsiness or the difficulty of holding myself securely upon the small
limb of the tree, the powder horn slipped from my fingers, and in an
instant they had ground it to fragments.

It was useless to blame myself for such a blunder, and for the moment
it did not seem to be very serious, since I expected that my enemies
would soon go away after learning that it was impossible to get at me.

I had killed three outright, and wounded two so severely that they were
lying on the ground; but of these the remainder of the drove appeared
to take no notice whatsoever. Their only object was to get hold of me,
and before ten minutes had passed I began to understand that I was not
only regularly treed, but likely to remain a prisoner until they were
forced to leave me in order to seek food.

[Illustration]

They leaped, and grunted, and snarled, at the foot of the tree until,
as time wore on, I became absolutely afraid that, growing exhausted, I
might fall among them and be torn to pieces.

After a time I lost all desire to look at that ring of sharp tusks
protruding from the red mouths which rose and swayed before me like
some unearthly thing made up of many parts, and was actually grown so
cowardly that I closed my eyes to shut out the sight.



VICIOUS LITTLE ANIMALS


[Illustration]

Hour after hour passed, yet those vicious little brutes at the foot of
the tree seemed as excited as when they first saw me, and I made up my
mind that I was in for many hours of this odd imprisonment, because it
was not reasonable to suppose the hogs would soon grow so hungry as to
leave me free.

But for the fact that Gyp was a dog who obeyed my every command, and
had the good sense to understand that something serious had happened, I
might have come to the end of my days there among the mesquite bushes,
murdered by the peccaries I had counted on for pork.

Fortunately father was about two miles down the river when he saw Gyp
coming toward him apparently in great fright. At once he understood the
situation to be extremely grave, else the dog would never have returned
home without me. Seizing his rifle, for we on the banks of the Trinity
took good care to go well armed even while working on the ranch, father
ordered Gyp to lead the way to where he had left me.

Half an hour before sunset he came so near that it was possible to hear
the angry grunting of the peccaries, and understood in a twinkling what
had happened.



FATHER COMES TO THE RESCUE


His first care was to lift Gyp into a pecan twenty or thirty yards away
from where I was roosting, and there the dog struggled to hold himself
in the crotch of a limb while father clambered up beside him.

All this while the hogs which were holding me prisoner gave no heed to
the noise made by father and Gyp, but continued their efforts to reach
me by leaping up against the trunk of the tree until father opened
fire, shouting to me as he sent a bullet among them:--

"Are you safe, lad? Have you been hurt?"

"I am all right; but I have dropped my powder horn."

Then father began firing as rapidly as the rifle could be reloaded.
There were seventeen in the drove I came upon; three I had killed and
two I had wounded, leaving twelve very much alive and very active.

Father killed nine before the survivors decided that the time had come
for them to beat a retreat, and when the last of the three trotted off,
grunting and gnashing his teeth, I literally dropped from my perch in
the pecan, as limp as though I had been ill for some time.

So far as getting a supply of pork was concerned, to say nothing of the
saving of my life, it was well father took a hand in the fight, for
I, who knew nothing of the peculiarity of these wild hogs, would have
allowed the meat to spoil.

There is a gland on the back, filled with a certain disagreeable
substance which will make its way through all the meat of the wild hog
unless it is removed within a short time after the killing. Father's
first act, even before waiting to congratulate me upon my escape, or to
ask how I had happened to fall into such a predicament, was to remove
these glands, and not until this work had been performed did he give
any attention to me.

We dressed the carcasses and hung up the meat on the branches of the
trees to save it from being devoured by the wolves; after which, each
of us carrying a peccary on his back, we set out for the long tramp
home, I promising myself sorrowfully that never again would I go out
hog hunting without taking due precautions against being worsted.

[Illustration]

I shall spend no more time telling of the hunting which Gyp and I did,
even though I am strongly tempted to do so; for we often had rare
sport, both on the prairie and in the woods, in search of all kinds of
game.

And there was game in great abundance, if we cared to go sufficiently
far from home. One year after our arrival, however, there came to the
banks of the Trinity four other families who staked out land and thus
somewhat interfered with the freedom of our sport. It seemed to me,
then, that the country was becoming too thickly settled, for I had to
walk no more than five miles in order to reach the house of a man who
had been our neighbor in Bolivar County.



THE INCREASE IN MY FLOCK


In the spring of 1844, one year after our coming into the republic,
father decided to give me all his sheep as payment for the work I had
performed on the ranch. By this time our flock of seventy-two had
increased to a hundred and fourteen, and we had good reason to hope
that it would be doubled in numbers before another season had passed.

I then turned all my attention to herding sheep, driving them far out
over the prairie where the grass was richest. There, day after day, Gyp
and I remained, with no other covering than the sky above us, save when
we spent our idle time putting up a temporary shelter here or there
where we might be shielded from the too strong rays of the sun, or from
the blasts of the norther. All the while my flock throve famously.

It seemed to me fortunate, so far as my own enterprise was concerned,
that the new settlers on the banks of the Trinity had not brought with
them any sheep, for they did not expect to raise such animals, having
heard that the western part of the state was better adapted for the
purpose.

[Illustration]

Therefore I had no fear that the scab would come among my flock,
because we were not in that section where strange sheep were likely to
be driven from one point to another, and just so that I kept away from
where the cattle were grazing, I had the entire northern portion of
Texas for my own range, with no person to interfere.



UNREST OF THE INDIANS


We had heard rumors of an uprising among the Indians when we came
to Fort Towson, on our way from Bolivar County. Again, when the new
settlers arrived, they told us that the Comanches were in a state of
unrest. All this promised evil for us who were living so far from a
town or fortification.

We had still further reason to believe that some trouble might be
expected, when those two Mexicans stopped at our ranch with cartloads
of what were unquestionably rifles. Yet we gave little heed to the
news. It seemed to us that we were so far in the wilderness, beyond
reach of either redskins or whites, that we would not be molested,
whatever might take place, and all our efforts were bent toward
improving the ranch and increasing our herds and flocks.

So far as I was concerned, I thought only of the sheep. I could not
understand why the savages should come where we were, because we had
nothing to tempt them save our live stock.

We prospered exceedingly as time wore on, and lived contentedly,
hearing little or nothing from the outer world. It was as if we were
in a country by ourselves, for during the two years we had been on
the Trinity we had had no visitors, except the two Mexicans and those
settlers of whom I have spoken.



TEXAS JOINS THE UNION


Before coming into Texas to live we had heard it said that the citizens
of the republic were making efforts to be annexed to the United States;
but father had given little heed to such talk, believing that the
people of the States would hesitate lest difficulties with Mexico be
brought about.

We knew nothing of what was going on outside our ranch, and were not
counting on hearing important news. In the spring of 1845, while I
was rejoicing over the wondrous increase in my flock, and father was
priding himself upon the fact that his land was growing each day more
and more valuable, two mounted men drove up just at night-fall and
asked for food and shelter. As we had not had any visitors for nearly
two years, you cannot imagine how eager we were to grant their request,
and how earnestly we strove to make them welcome.

In so doing we were well repaid, for then we learned that the republic
of Texas had ceased to exist. The visitors told us we were living in
one of the states of the Union, for the act of annexation had been
signed by President John Tyler on the first day of March in the year
1845, and a convention had been held later at Austin to ratify the
resolution.

[Illustration]

I had brought with me from Bolivar County a small American flag, but
had not hoisted it because of being a citizen of the republic whose
ensign contained but a single star.

Within five minutes after learning that Texas was really a part of
the Union, I brought out the Stars and Stripes and fastened it to the
topmost branches of the largest pecan tree in the motte. Then I saluted
it with as many charges of powder as I could afford to spend, for you
must know that on the Trinity at that time powder and ball were not
only scarce but expensive.

[Illustration]

My store of ammunition was nearly exhausted by such a celebration; but
father promised that very soon we would drive some of the cattle and a
few of the sheep to Dallas, and there sell them to get sufficient money
to buy the supplies which we were needing.

These visitors of ours had come to spy out the land with an idea of
making a settlement near our ranch, and while it was pleasant to look
forward to having near neighbors, I was not pleased with the idea of
being forced to take my flocks farther afield in order to find fresh
pasturage, as must happen in case many people took up land in our
vicinity.

For mother's sake, however, I was pleased, because she was filled with
delight at the idea of having someone near with whom she could visit.



WAR WITH MEXICO


With the coming of strangers, and the building of new homes near us, we
began to hear more of what was being done in the outer world, and when
father and Zeba went down to Dallas to sell a few cattle and sheep,
they brought back the surprising news that the United States was at war
with Mexico.

[Illustration]

We were told that the younger men of Texas were volunteering as
soldiers, and that much blood might be shed.

By this time I was fifteen years old, and it seemed to me that it was
my duty to leave home, and to abandon my plans of getting rich through
sheep raising, in order to do what I could in defense of the state of
which I claimed to be a citizen.

[Illustration]

Father soon gave me to understand, however, that I was not yet old
enough to take up arms. He insisted that duty called me to remain where
I was, and that we were doing our duty by the state so long as we
remained on the ranch raising live stock, for if war was continued any
length of time, cattle and sheep would be required in order to supply
the army with food.

I therefore gave up all thoughts of enlisting. Perhaps I was the more
willing to do this because of the sorrow that I should feel if forced
to leave my flock, which now numbered nearly five hundred. But whenever
John or Zeba was at liberty to herd my flock, I frequently walked many
miles in order to learn what was going on in the war.

[Illustration]



SELLING WOOL


I was the one who brought to our ranch the news that the Mexicans
had bombarded Fort Brown, May 4, 1846, when Major Brown was killed;
also word from Dallas of the battle of Palo Alto. Then we heard from
Monterey, and but for the fact that I had three years' shearing of wool
to sell, I believe I might have enlisted despite all father could have
said.

It was necessary, however, that I sell this wool at a time when the
prices were high, and during the two months which followed the battle
of Monterey I spent all my time freighting the fleeces from the ranch
to Dallas, using one of the big wagons with eight mules, and taking
Zeba with me as assistant.

[Illustration]

When I had in my pocket the money which had been paid for the wool,
it seemed as if I might really call myself a ranchman. I was so proud
of my success that I almost lost sight of the fact that other young
fellows, most likely some of them no older than I, were putting on
the uniforms of enlisted men, and taking their places in the ranks to
defend the state in which were their homes.

Once we heard that the Comanches were on the warpath, and there were
times when it seemed certain we might be attacked at any moment. Then
father put Bar-O Ranch in a state of defense. He brought from Dallas a
good supply of weapons, and we fitted to the windows of our house heavy
shutters in which were loopholes.



PEACE ON THE TRINITY


But the Lord was good to us settlers on the Trinity; for He permitted
no blood-craving Indian to come our way. It seemed at times almost as
if it was a crime for us to prosper so wondrously well, while in other
parts of the state the settlers were struggling against the savages, or
standing in battle array before the Mexicans. Indeed, I was very nearly
ashamed because no harm came to us on the Trinity, because our worldly
goods were increasing day by day, and because Bar-O Ranch was rapidly
becoming one of the best in the state.

But for the fact that many others have told the story of how Texas won
her independence, how she flourished or decayed as a free republic
during ten years, and how she was finally annexed to the United States,
I would be glad to tell more of these things to you. They could not
fail to be entertaining as well as instructive, for they show how a
people with a true purpose before them overcame the many obstacles
which confronted them and finally made Texas what she is to-day, one of
the brightest stars in the blue field of Old Glory.



MY DREAM FULFILLED


I may not have done all I might toward the settlement of this grand
state, but the dream which was mine in Bolivar County has at last
been fulfilled. The flock which numbered twelve when I left the old
home has increased to more than five thousand, and my sale of wool
each year amounts to as much as that of any other ranchman within two
hundred miles of us. Furthermore, in addition to my sheep, I claim a
full interest with father in Bar-O Ranch, which is in itself no mean
property, and am duly thankful for all the good things of this life
which have come to me.

Yet there is in my heart at this moment, and ever will be, a keen
regret, that I entirely forgot one admonition from the Bible which has
in these past years stood out so boldly in my mind. How much better is
it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is rather to be
chosen than silver.

It is true there were no opportunities for me when we first settled on
the banks of the Trinity, but if I had struggled half as hard to get
wisdom as I have struggled to hold my flocks prosperous, then I could
now look back with real pride upon what I have accomplished.

If I had done this, there would now be no happier person in this great
state than Philip of Texas.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOOKS CONSULTED IN WRITING PHILIP OF TEXAS


 BAKER, D. W. C.: A Texas Scrap Book. A. S. Barnes & Co.

 BOLTON & BARKER: Makers of Texas. American Book Co.

 BOND, OCTAVIA ZOLLICOFFER: Old Tales Retold. Smith & Lamar.

 BRAMAN, D. E. E.: Information about Texas. J. B. Lippincott &
 Co.

 BROWN, JOHN HENRY: History of Texas. Daniell, St. Louis.

 DEWEES, W. B.: Letter from an Early Settler of Texas.
 Compiled by Cara Cardelle. Hull, 1854.

 FOOT, HENRY STUART: Texas and the Texans. Thomas Cowperthwait
 & Co.

 GARRISON, GEORGE P.: Texas. Houghton, Mifflin and Company.

 LUBBOCK, FRANCIS RICHARD: Six Decades in Texas. Gammel Book
 Co.

 MAILLARD, N. DORAN: The History of the Republic of Texas.
 Smith, Elder & Co.

 SANTLEBEN, AUGUST: A Texas Pioneer. Neale Publishing Co.

 SMITH, ASHBEL: Reminiscences of the Texas Republic.
 Historical Society of Galveston.

 YOAKUM, HENDERSON: History of Texas. Redfield, New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

JAMES OTIS'S COLONIAL SERIES


  Calvert of Maryland
  Mary of Plymouth
  Peter of New Amsterdam
  Richard of Jamestown
  Ruth of Boston
  Stephen of Philadelphia

Price, each, 35 cents. For grades 3-5

Don't you remember the "Toby Tyler" stories, which appeared some years
ago in "Harper's Young People"? And don't you remember how impatiently
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       *       *       *       *       *

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By H. A. GUERBER


  Story of the Thirteen Colonies      $0.65
  Story of the Great Republic           .65
  Story of the English                  .65
  Story of Old France                   .65
  Story of Modern France                .65
  Story of the Chosen People            .60
  Story of the Greeks                   .60
  Story of the Romans                   .60


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       *       *       *       *       *

JAMES OTIS'S PIONEER SERIES


 =ANTOINE OF OREGON=: A STORY OF THE OREGON TRAIL.

 =BENJAMIN OF OHIO=: A STORY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF
 MARIETTA.

 =HANNAH OF KENTUCKY=: A STORY OF THE WILDERNESS ROAD.

 =MARTHA OF CALIFORNIA=: A STORY OF THE CALIFORNIA TRAIL.

 =PHILIP OF TEXAS=: A STORY OF SHEEP RAISING IN TEXAS.

 =SETH OF COLORADO=: A STORY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF DENVER.

       *       *       *       *       *





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