From: The Last Of The Plainsmen
After a much-needed rest at Emmett's, we bade good-by to him and his
hospitable family, and under the guidance of his man once more took to
the wind-swept trail. We pursued a southwesterly course now, following
the lead of the craggy red wall that stretched on and on for hundreds
of miles into Utah. The desert, smoky and hot, fell away to the left,
and in the foreground a dark, irregular line marked the Grand Canyon
cutting through the plateau.
The wind whipped in from the vast, open expanse, and meeting an
obstacle in the red wall, turned north and raced past us. Jones's hat
blew off, stood on its rim, and rolled. It kept on rolling, thirty
miles an hour, more or less; so fast, at least, that we were a long
time catching up to it with a team of horses. Possibly we never would
have caught it had not a stone checked its flight. Further
manifestation of the power of the desert wind surrounded us on all
sides. It had hollowed out huge stones from the cliffs, and tumbled
them to the plain below; and then, sweeping sand and gravel low across
the desert floor, had cut them deeply, until they rested on slender
pedestals, thus sculptoring grotesque and striking monuments to the
marvelous persistence of this element of nature.
Late that afternoon, as we reached the height of the plateau, Jones
woke up and shouted: "Ha! there's Buckskin!"
Far southward lay a long, black mountain, covered with patches of
shining snow. I could follow the zigzag line of the Grand Canyon
splitting the desert plateau, and saw it disappear in the haze round
the end of the mountain. From this I got my first clear impression of
the topography of the country surrounding our objective point. Buckskin
mountain ran its blunt end eastward to the Canyon--in fact, formed a
hundred miles of the north rim. As it was nine thousand feet high it
still held the snow, which had occasioned our lengthy desert ride to
get back of the mountain. I could see the long slopes rising out of the
desert to meet the timber.
As we bowled merrily down grade I noticed that we were no longer on
stony ground, and that a little scant silvery grass had made its
appearance. Then little branches of green, with a blue flower, smiled
out of the clayish sand.
All of a sudden Jones stood up, and let out a wild Comanche yell. I was
more startled by the yell than by the great hand he smashed down on my
shoulder, and for the moment I was dazed.
"There! look! look! the buffalo! Hi! Hi! Hi!"
Below us, a few miles on a rising knoll, a big herd of buffalo shone
black in the gold of the evening sun. I had not Jones's incentive, but
I felt enthusiasm born of the wild and beautiful picture, and added my
yell to his. The huge, burly leader of the herd lifted his head, and
after regarding us for a few moments calmly went on browsing.
The desert had fringed away into a grand rolling pastureland, walled in
by the red cliffs, the slopes of Buckskin, and further isolated by the
Canyon. Here was a range of twenty-four hundred square miles without a
foot of barb-wire, a pasture fenced in by natural forces, with the
splendid feature that the buffalo could browse on the plain in winter,
and go up into the cool foothills of Buckskin in summer.
From another ridge we saw a cabin dotting the rolling plain, and in
half an hour we reached it. As we climbed down from the wagon a brown
and black dog came dashing out of the cabin, and promptly jumped at
Moze. His selection showed poor discrimination, for Moze whipped him
before I could separate them. Hearing Jones heartily greeting some one,
I turned in his direction, only to be distracted by another dog fight.
Don had tackled Moze for the seventh time. Memory rankled in Don, and
he needed a lot of whipping, some of which he was getting when I
Next moment I was shaking hands with Frank and Jim, Jones's ranchmen.
At a glance I liked them both. Frank was short and wiry, and had a big,
ferocious mustache, the effect of which was softened by his kindly
brown eyes. Jim was tall, a little heavier; he had a careless, tidy
look; his eyes were searching, and though he appeared a young man, his
hair was white.
"I shore am glad to see you all," said Jim, in slow, soft, Southern
"Get down, get down," was Frank's welcome--a typically Western one, for
we had already gotten down; "an' come in. You must be worked out. Sure
you've come a long way." He was quick of speech, full of nervous
energy, and beamed with hospitality.
The cabin was the rudest kind of log affair, with a huge stone
fireplace in one end, deer antlers and coyote skins on the wall,
saddles and cowboys' traps in a corner, a nice, large, promising
cupboard, and a table and chairs. Jim threw wood on a smoldering fire,
that soon blazed and crackled cheerily.
I sank down into a chair with a feeling of blessed relief. Ten days of
desert ride behind me! Promise of wonderful days before me, with the
last of the old plainsmen. No wonder a sweet sense of ease stole over
me, or that the fire seemed a live and joyously welcoming thing, or
that Jim's deft maneuvers in preparation of supper roused in me a rapt
"Twenty calves this spring!" cried Jones, punching me in my sore side.
"Ten thousand dollars worth of calves!"
He was now altogether a changed man; he looked almost young; his eyes
danced, and he rubbed his big hands together while he plied Frank with
questions. In strange surroundings--that is, away from his Native
Wilds, Jones had been a silent man; it had been almost impossible to
get anything out of him. But now I saw that I should come to know the
real man. In a very few moments he had talked more than on all the
desert trip, and what he said, added to the little I had already
learned, put me in possession of some interesting information as to his
Some years before he had conceived the idea of hybridizing buffalo with
black Galloway cattle; and with the characteristic determination and
energy of the man, he at once set about finding a suitable range. This
was difficult, and took years of searching. At last the wild north rim
of the Grand Canyon, a section unknown except to a few Indians and
mustang hunters, was settled upon. Then the gigantic task of
transporting the herd of buffalo by rail from Montana to Salt Lake was
begun. The two hundred and ninety miles of desert lying between the
home of the Mormons and Buckskin Mountain was an obstacle almost
insurmountable. The journey was undertaken and found even more trying
than had been expected. Buffalo after buffalo died on the way. Then
Frank, Jones's right-hand man, put into execution a plan he had been
thinking of--namely, to travel by night. It succeeded. The buffalo
rested in the day and traveled by easy stages by night, with the result
that the big herd was transported to the ideal range.
Here, in an environment strange to their race, but peculiarly
adaptable, they thrived and multiplied. The hybrid of the Galloway cow
and buffalo proved a great success. Jones called the new species
"Cattalo." The cattalo took the hardiness of the buffalo, and never
required artificial food or shelter. He would face the desert storm or
blizzard and stand stock still in his tracks until the weather cleared.
He became quite domestic, could be easily handled, and grew exceedingly
fat on very little provender. The folds of his stomach were so numerous
that they digested even the hardest and flintiest of corn. He had
fourteen ribs on each side, while domestic cattle had only thirteen;
thus he could endure rougher work and longer journeys to water. His fur
was so dense and glossy that it equaled that of the unplucked beaver or
otter, and was fully as valuable as the buffalo robe. And not to be
overlooked by any means was the fact that his meat was delicious.
Jones had to hear every detail of all that had happened since his
absence in the East, and he was particularly inquisitive to learn all
about the twenty cattalo calves. He called different buffalo by name;
and designated the calves by descriptive terms, such as "Whiteface" and
"Crosspatch." He almost forgot to eat, and kept Frank too busy to get
anything into his own mouth. After supper he calmed down.
"How about your other man--Mr. Wallace, I think you said?" asked Frank.
"We expected to meet him at Grand Canyon Station, and then at
Flagstaff. But he didn't show up. Either he backed out or missed us.
I'm sorry; for when we get up on Buckskin, among the wild horses and
cougars, we'll be likely to need him."
"I reckon you'll need me, as well as Jim," said Frank dryly, with a
twinkle in his eye. "The buffs are in good shape an' can get along
without me for a while."
"That'll be fine. How about cougar sign on the mountain?"
"Plenty. I've got two spotted near Clark Spring. Comin' over two weeks
ago I tracked them in the snow along the trail for miles. We'll ooze
over that way, as it's goin' toward the Siwash. The Siwash breaks of
the Canyon--there's the place for lions. I met a wild-horse wrangler
not long back, an' he was tellin' me about Old Tom an' the colts he'd
killed this winter."
Naturally, I here expressed a desire to know more of Old Tom.
"He's the biggest cougar ever known of in these parts. His tracks are
bigger than a horse's, an' have been seen on Buckskin for twelve years.
This wrangler--his name is Clark--said he'd turned his saddle horse out
to graze near camp, an' Old Tom sneaked in an' downed him. The lions
over there are sure a bold bunch. Well, why shouldn't they be? No one
ever hunted them. You see, the mountain is hard to get at. But now
you're here, if it's big cats you want we sure can find them. Only be
easy, be easy. You've all the time there is. An' any job on Buckskin
will take time. We'll look the calves over, an' you must ride the range
to harden up. Then we'll ooze over toward Oak. I expect it'll be boggy,
an' I hope the snow melts soon."
"The snow hadn't melted on Greenland point," replied Jones. "We saw
that with a glass from the El Tovar. We wanted to cross that way, but
Rust said Bright Angel Creek was breast high to a horse, and that creek
is the trail."
"There's four feet of snow on Greenland," said Frank. "It was too early
to come that way. There's only about three months in the year the
Canyon can be crossed at Greenland."
"I want to get in the snow," returned Jones. "This bunch of long-eared
canines I brought never smelled a lion track. Hounds can't be trained
quick without snow. You've got to see what they're trailing, or you
can't break them."
Frank looked dubious. "'Pears to me we'll have trouble gettin' a lion
without lion dogs. It takes a long time to break a hound off of deer,
once he's chased them. Buckskin is full of deer, wolves, coyotes, and
there's the wild horses. We couldn't go a hundred feet without crossin'
"How's the hound you and Jim fetched in las' year? Has he got a good
nose? Here he is--I like his head. Come here, Bowser--what's his name?"
"Jim named him Sounder, because he sure has a voice. It's great to hear
him on a trail. Sounder has a nose that can't be fooled, an' he'll
trail anythin'; but I don't know if he ever got up a lion."
Sounder wagged his bushy tail and looked up affectionately at Frank. He
had a fine head, great brown eyes, very long ears and curly
brownish-black hair. He was not demonstrative, looked rather askance at
Jones, and avoided the other dogs.
"That dog will make a great lion-chaser," said Jones, decisively, after
his study of Sounder. "He and Moze will keep us busy, once they learn
we want lions."
"I don't believe any dog-trainer could teach them short of six months,"
replied Frank. "Sounder is no spring chicken; an' that black and dirty
white cross between a cayuse an' a barb-wire fence is an old dog. You
can't teach old dogs new tricks."
Jones smiled mysteriously, a smile of conscious superiority, but said
"We'll shore hev a storm to-morrow," said Jim, relinquishing his pipe
long enough to speak. He had been silent, and now his meditative gaze
was on the west, through the cabin window, where a dull afterglow faded
under the heavy laden clouds of night and left the horizon dark.
I was very tired when I lay down, but so full of excitement that sleep
did not soon visit my eyelids. The talk about buffalo, wild-horse
hunters, lions and dogs, the prospect of hard riding and unusual
adventure; the vision of Old Tom that had already begun to haunt me,
filled my mind with pictures and fancies. The other fellows dropped off
to sleep, and quiet reigned. Suddenly a succession of queer, sharp
barks came from the plain, close to the cabin. Coyotes were paying us a
call, and judging from the chorus of yelps and howls from our dogs, it
was not a welcome visit. Above the medley rose one big, deep, full
voice that I knew at once belonged to Sounder. Then all was quiet
again. Sleep gradually benumbed my senses. Vague phrases dreamily
drifted to and fro in my mind: "Jones's wild range--Old
Tom--Sounder--great name--great voice--Sounder! Sounder! Sounder--"
Next morning I could hardly crawl out of my sleeping-bag. My bones
ached, my muscles protested excruciatingly, my lips burned and bled,
and the cold I had contracted on the desert clung to me. A good brisk
walk round the corrals, and then breakfast, made me feel better.
"Of course you can ride?" queried Frank.
My answer was not given from an overwhelming desire to be truthful.
Frank frowned a little, as it wondering how a man could have the nerve
to start out on a jaunt with Buffalo Jones without being a good
horseman. To be unable to stick on the back of a wild mustang, or a
cayuse, was an unpardonable sin in Arizona. My frank admission was made
relatively, with my mind on what cowboys held as a standard of
The mount Frank trotted out of the corral for me was a pure white,
beautiful mustang, nervous, sensitive, quivering. I watched Frank put
on the saddle, and when he called me I did not fail to catch a covert
twinkle in his merry brown eyes. Looking away toward Buckskin Mountain,
which was coincidentally in the direction of home, I said to myself:
"This may be where you get on, but most certainly it is where you get
Jones was already riding far beyond the corral, as I could see by a
cloud of dust; and I set off after him, with the painful consciousness
that I must have looked to Frank and Jim much as Central Park
equestrians had often looked to me. Frank shouted after me that he
would catch up with us out on the range. I was not in any great hurry
to overtake Jones, but evidently my horse's inclinations differed from
mine; at any rate, he made the dust fly, and jumped the little sage
Jones, who had tarried to inspect one of the pools--formed of running
water from the corrals--greeted me as I came up with this cheerful
"What in thunder did Frank give you that white nag for? The buffalo
hate white horses--anything white. They're liable to stampede off the
range, or chase you into the canyon."
I replied grimly that, as it was certain something was going to happen,
the particular circumstance might as well come off quickly.
We rode over the rolling plain with a cool, bracing breeze in our
faces. The sky was dull and mottled with a beautiful cloud effect that
presaged wind. As we trotted along Jones pointed out to me and
descanted upon the nutritive value of three different kinds of grass,
one of which he called the Buffalo Pea, noteworthy for a beautiful blue
blossom. Soon we passed out of sight of the cabin, and could see only
the billowy plain, the red tips of the stony wall, and the
black-fringed crest of Buckskin. After riding a while we made out some
cattle, a few of which were on the range, browsing in the lee of a
ridge. No sooner had I marked them than Jones let out another Comanche
"Wolf!" he yelled; and spurring his big bay, he was off like the wind.
A single glance showed me several cows running as if bewildered, and
near them a big white wolf pulling down a calf. Another white wolf
stood not far off. My horse jumped as if he had been shot; and the
realization darted upon me that here was where the certain something
began. Spot--the mustang had one black spot in his pure white--snorted
like I imagined a blooded horse might, under dire insult. Jones's bay
had gotten about a hundred paces the start. I lived to learn that Spot
hated to be left behind; moreover, he would not be left behind; he was
the swiftest horse on the range, and proud of the distinction. I cast
one unmentionable word on the breeze toward the cabin and Frank, then
put mind and muscle to the sore task of remaining with Spot. Jones was
born on a saddle, and had been taking his meals in a saddle for about
sixty-three years, and the bay horse could run. Run is not a felicitous
word--he flew. And I was rendered mentally deranged for the moment to
see that hundred paces between the bay and Spot materially lessen at
every jump. Spot lengthened out, seemed to go down near the ground, and
cut the air like a high-geared auto. If I had not heard the fast
rhythmic beat of his hoofs, and had not bounced high into the air at
every jump, I would have been sure I was riding a bird. I tried to stop
him. As well might I have tried to pull in the Lusitania with a thread.
Spot was out to overhaul that bay, and in spite of me, he was doing it.
The wind rushed into my face and sang in my ears. Jones seemed the
nucleus of a sort of haze, and it grew larger and larger. Presently he
became clearly defined in my sight; the violent commotion under me
subsided; I once more felt the saddle, and then I realized that Spot
had been content to stop alongside of Jones, tossing his head and
champing his bit.
"Well, by George! I didn't know you were in the stretch," cried my
companion. "That was a fine little brush. We must have come several
miles. I'd have killed those wolves if I'd brought a gun. The big one
that had the calf was a bold brute. He never let go until I was within
fifty feet of him. Then I almost rode him down. I don't think the calf
was much hurt. But those blood-thirsty devils will return, and like as
not get the calf. That's the worst of cattle raising. Now, take the
buffalo. Do you suppose those wolves could have gotten a buffalo calf
out from under the mother? Never. Neither could a whole band of wolves.
Buffalo stick close together, and the little ones do not stray. When
danger threatens, the herd closes in and faces it and fights. That is
what is grand about the buffalo and what made them once roam the
prairies in countless, endless droves."
From the highest elevation in that part of the range we viewed the
surrounding ridges, flats and hollows, searching for the buffalo. At
length we spied a cloud of dust rising from behind an undulating mound,
then big black dots hove in sight.
"Frank has rounded up the herd, and is driving it this way. We'll
wait," said Jones.
Though the buffalo appeared to be moving fast, a long time elapsed
before they reached the foot of our outlook. They lumbered along in a
compact mass, so dense that I could not count them, but I estimated the
number at seventy-five. Frank was riding zigzag behind them, swinging
his lariat and yelling. When he espied us he reined in his horse and
waited. Then the herd slowed down, halted and began browsing.
"Look at the cattalo calves," cried Jones, in ecstatic tones. "See how
shy they are, how close they stick to their mothers."
The little dark-brown fellows were plainly frightened. I made several
unsuccessful attempts to photograph them, and gave it up when Jones
told me not to ride too close and that it would be better to wait till
we had them in the corral.
He took my camera and instructed me to go on ahead, in the rear of the
herd. I heard the click of the instrument as he snapped a picture, and
then suddenly heard him shout in alarm: "Look out! look out! pull your
Thundering hoof-beats pounding the earth accompanied his words. I saw a
big bull, with head down, tail raised, charging my horse. He answered
Frank's yell of command with a furious grunt. I was paralyzed at the
wonderfully swift action of the shaggy brute, and I sat helpless. Spot
wheeled as if he were on a pivot and plunged out of the way with a
celerity that was astounding. The buffalo stopped, pawed the ground,
and angrily tossed his huge head. Frank rode up to him, yelled, and
struck him with the lariat, whereupon he gave another toss of his
horns, and then returned to the herd.
"It was that darned white nag," said Jones. "Frank, it was wrong to put
an inexperienced man on Spot. For that matter, the horse should never
be allowed to go near the buffalo."
"Spot knows the buffs; they'd never get to him," replied Frank. But the
usual spirit was absent from his voice, and he glanced at me soberly. I
knew I had turned white, for I felt the peculiar cold sensation on my
"Now, look at that, will you?" cried Jones. "I don't like the looks of
He pointed to the herd. They stopped browsing, and were uneasily
shifting to and fro. The bull lifted his head; the others slowly
"Storm! Sandstorm!" exclaimed Jones, pointing desert-ward. Dark yellow
clouds like smoke were rolling, sweeping, bearing down upon us. They
expanded, blossoming out like gigantic roses, and whirled and merged
into one another, all the time rolling on and blotting out the light.
"We've got to run. That storm may last two days," yelled Frank to me.
"We've had some bad ones lately. Give your horse free rein, and cover
A roar, resembling an approaching storm at sea, came on puffs of wind,
as the horses got into their stride. Long streaks of dust whipped up in
different places; the silver-white grass bent to the ground; round
bunches of sage went rolling before us. The puffs grew longer,
steadier, harder. Then a shrieking blast howled on our trail, seeming
to swoop down on us with a yellow, blinding pall. I shut my eyes and
covered my face with a handkerchief. The sand blew so thick that it
filled my gloves, pebbles struck me hard enough to sting through my
Fortunately, Spot kept to an easy swinging lope, which was the most
comfortable motion for me. But I began to get numb, and could hardly
stick on the saddle. Almost before I had dared to hope, Spot stopped.
Uncovering my face, I saw Jim in the doorway of the lee side of the
cabin. The yellow, streaky, whistling clouds of sand split on the cabin
and passed on, leaving a small, dusty space of light.
"Shore Spot do hate to be beat," yelled Jim, as he helped me off. I
stumbled into the cabin and fell upon a buffalo robe and lay there
absolutely spent. Jones and Frank came in a few minutes apart, each
anathematizing the gritty, powdery sand.
All day the desert storm raged and roared. The dust sifted through the
numerous cracks in the cabin burdened our clothes, spoiled our food and
blinded our eyes. Wind, snow, sleet and rainstorms are discomforting
enough under trying circumstances; but all combined, they are nothing
to the choking stinging, blinding sandstorm.
"Shore it'll let up by sundown," averred Jim. And sure enough the roar
died away about five o'clock, the wind abated and the sand settled.
Just before supper, a knock sounded heavily o the cabin door. Jim
opened it to admit one of Emmett's sons and a very tall man whom none
of us knew. He was a sand-man. All that was not sand seemed a space or
two of corduroy, a big bone-handled knife, a prominent square jaw and
bronze cheek and flashing eyes.
"Get down--get down, an' come in, stranger, said Frank cordially.
"How do you do, sir," said Jones.
"Colonel Jones, I've been on your trail for twelve days," announced the
stranger, with a grim smile. The sand streamed off his coat in little
white streak. Jones appeared to be casting about in his mind.
"I'm Grant Wallace," continued the newcomer. "I missed you at the El
Tovar, at Williams and at Flagstaff, where I was one day behind. Was
half a day late at the Little Colorado, saw your train cross Moncaupie
Wash, and missed you because of the sandstorm there. Saw you from the
other side of the Big Colorado as you rode out from Emmett's along the
red wall. And here I am. We've never met till now, which obviously
isn't my fault."
The Colonel and I fell upon Wallace's neck. Frank manifested his usual
alert excitation, and said: "Well, I guess he won't hang fire on a long
cougar chase." And Jim--slow, careful Jim, dropped a plate with the
exclamation: "Shore it do beat hell!" The hounds sniffed round Wallace,
and welcomed him with vigorous tails.
Supper that night, even if we did grind sand with our teeth, was a
joyous occasion. The biscuits were flaky and light; the bacon fragrant
and crisp. I produced a jar of blackberry jam, which by subtle cunning
I had been able to secrete from the Mormons on that dry desert ride,
and it was greeted with acclamations of pleasure. Wallace, divested of
his sand guise, beamed with the gratification of a hungry man once more
in the presence of friends and food. He made large cavities in Jim's
great pot of potato stew, and caused biscuits to vanish in a way that
would not have shamed a Hindoo magician. The Grand Canyon he dug in my
jar of jam, however, could not have been accomplished by legerdemain.
Talk became animated on dogs, cougars, horses and buffalo. Jones told
of our experience out on the range, and concluded with some salient
"A tame wild animal is the most dangerous of beasts. My old friend,
Dick Rock, a great hunter and guide out of Idaho, laughed at my advice,
and got killed by one of his three-year-old bulls. I told him they knew
him just well enough to kill him, and they did. My friend, A. H. Cole,
of Oxford, Nebraska, tried to rope a Weetah that was too tame to be
safe, and the bull killed him. Same with General Bull, a member of the
Kansas Legislature, and two cowboys who went into a corral to tie up a
tame elk at the wrong time. I pleaded with them not to undertake it.
They had not studied animals as I had. That tame elk killed all of
them. He had to be shot in order to get General Bull off his great
antlers. You see, a wild animal must learn to respect a man. The way I
used to teach the Yellowstone Park bears to be respectful and safe
neighbors was to rope them around the front paw, swing them up on a
tree clear of the ground, and whip them with a long pole. It was a
dangerous business, and looks cruel, but it is the only way I could
find to make the bears good. You see, they eat scraps around the hotels
and get so tame they will steal everything but red-hot stoves, and will
cuff the life out of those who try to shoo them off. But after a bear
mother has had a licking, she not only becomes a good bear for the rest
of her life, but she tells all her cubs about it with a good smack of
her paw, for emphasis, and teaches them to respect peaceable citizens
generation after generation.
"One of the hardest jobs I ever tackled was that of supplying the
buffalo for Bronx Park. I rounded up a magnificent 'king' buffalo bull,
belligerent enough to fight a battleship. When I rode after him the
cowmen said I was as good as killed. I made a lance by driving a nail
into the end of a short pole and sharpening it. After he had chased me,
I wheeled my broncho, and hurled the lance into his back, ripping a
wound as long as my hand. That put the fear of Providence into him and
took the fight all out of him. I drove him uphill and down, and across
canyons at a dead run for eight miles single handed, and loaded him on
a freight car; but he came near getting me once or twice, and only
quick broncho work and lance play saved me.
"In the Yellowstone Park all our buffaloes have become docile,
excepting the huge bull which led them. The Indians call the buffalo
leader the 'Weetah,' the master of the herd. It was sure death to go
near this one. So I shipped in another Weetah, hoping that he might
whip some of the fight out of old Manitou, the Mighty. They came
together head on, like a railway collision, and ripped up over a square
mile of landscape, fighting till night came on, and then on into the
"I jumped into the field with them, chasing them with my biograph,
getting a series of moving pictures of that bullfight which was sure
the real thing. It was a ticklish thing to do, though knowing that
neither bull dared take his eyes off his adversary for a second, I felt
reasonably safe. The old Weetah beat the new champion out that night,
but the next morning they were at it again, and the new buffalo finally
whipped the old one into submission. Since then his spirit has remained
broken, and even a child can approach him safely--but the new Weetah is
in turn a holy terror.
"To handle buffalo, elk and bear, you must get into sympathy with their
methods of reasoning. No tenderfoot stands any show, even with the tame
animals of the Yellowstone."
The old buffalo hunter's lips were no longer locked. One after another
he told reminiscences of his eventful life, in a simple manner; yet so
vivid and gripping were the unvarnished details that I was spellbound.
"Considering what appears the impossibility of capturing a full-grown
buffalo, how did you earn the name of preserver of the American bison?"
"It took years to learn how, and ten more to capture the fifty-eight
that I was able to keep. I tried every plan under the sun. I roped
hundreds, of all sizes and ages. They would not live in captivity. If
they could not find an embankment over which to break their necks, they
would crush their skulls on stones. Failing any means like that, they
would lie down, will themselves to die, and die. Think of a savage wild
nature that could will its heart to cease beating! But it's true.
Finally I found I could keep only calves under three months of age. But
to capture them so young entailed time and patience. For the buffalo
fight for their young, and when I say fight, I mean till they drop. I
almost always had to go alone, because I could neither coax nor hire
any one to undertake it with me. Sometimes I would be weeks getting one
calf. One day I captured eight--eight little buffalo calves! Never will
I forget that day as long as I live!"
"Tell us about it," I suggested, in a matter of fact,
round-the-campfire voice. Had the silent plainsman ever told a complete
and full story of his adventures? I doubted it. He was not the man to
A short silence ensued. The cabin was snug and warm; the ruddy embers
glowed; one of Jim's pots steamed musically and fragrantly. The hounds
lay curled in the cozy chimney corner.
Jones began to talk again, simply and unaffectedly, of his famous
exploit; and as he went on so modestly, passing lightly over features
we recognized as wonderful, I allowed the fire of my imagination to
fuse for myself all the toil, patience, endurance, skill, herculean
strength and marvelous courage and unfathomable passion which he
slighted in his narrative.
Next: The Last Herd
Previous: The Arizona Desert