The Round-up





It was a crackling and roaring of fire that awakened Madeline next

morning, and the first thing she saw was a huge stone fireplace in which

lay a bundle of blazing sticks. Some one had kindled a fire while she

slept. For a moment the curious sensation of being lost returned to her.

She just dimly remembered reaching the ranch and being taken into a huge

house and a huge, dimly lighted room. And it seemed to her that she had

gone to sleep at once, and had awakened without remembering how she had

gotten to bed.



But she was wide awake in an instant. The bed stood near one end of an

enormous chamber. The adobe walls resembled a hall in an ancient feudal

castle, stone-floored, stone-walled, with great darkened rafters running

across the ceiling. The few articles of furniture were worn out and

sadly dilapidated. Light flooded into the room from two windows on the

right of the fireplace and two on the left, and another large window

near the bedstead. Looking out from where she lay, Madeline saw a dark,

slow up-sweep of mountain. Her eyes returned to the cheery, snapping

fire, and she watched it while gathering courage to get up. The room was

cold. When she did slip her bare feet out upon the stone floor she very

quickly put them back under the warm blankets. And she was still in

bed trying to pluck up her courage when, with a knock on the door and a

cheerful greeting, Florence entered, carrying steaming hot water.



"Good mawnin', Miss Hammond. Hope you slept well. You sure were tired

last night. I imagine you'll find this old rancho house as cold as a

barn. It'll warm up directly. Al's gone with the boys and Bill. We're to

ride down on the range after a while when your baggage comes."



Florence wore a woolen blouse with a scarf round her neck, a

short corduroy divided skirt, and boots; and while she talked she

energetically heaped up the burning wood in the fireplace, and laid

Madeline's clothes at the foot of the bed, and heated a rug and put that

on the floor by the bedside. And lastly, with a sweet, direct smile, she

said:



"Al told me--and I sure saw myself--that you weren't used to being

without your maid. Will you let me help you?"



"Thank you, I am going to be my own maid for a while. I expect I do

appear a very helpless individual, but really I do not feel so. Perhaps

I have had just a little too much waiting on."



"All right. Breakfast will be ready soon, and after that we'll look

about the place."



Madeline was charmed with the old Spanish house, and the more she saw of

it the more she thought what a delightful home it could be made. All

the doors opened into a courtyard, or patio, as Florence called it. The

house was low, in the shape of a rectangle, and so immense in size that

Madeline wondered if it had been a Spanish barracks. Many of the rooms

were dark, without windows, and they were empty. Others were full of

ranchers' implements and sacks of grain and bales of hay. Florence

called these last alfalfa. The house itself appeared strong and well

preserved, and it was very picturesque. But in the living-rooms were

only the barest necessities, and these were worn out and comfortless.



However, when Madeline went outdoors she forgot the cheerless, bare

interior. Florence led the way out on a porch and waved a hand at a

vast, colored void. "That's what Bill likes," she said.



At first Madeline could not tell what was sky and what was land. The

immensity of the scene stunned her faculties of conception. She sat down

in one of the old rocking-chairs and looked and looked, and knew that

she was not grasping the reality of what stretched wondrously before

her.



"We're up at the edge of the foothills," Florence said. "You remember we

rode around the northern end of the mountain range? Well, that's behind

us now, and you look down across the line into Arizona and Mexico. That

long slope of gray is the head of the San Bernardino Valley. Straight

across you see the black Chiricahua Mountains, and away down to the

south the Guadalupe Mountains. That awful red gulf between is the

desert, and far, far beyond the dim, blue peaks are the Sierra Madres in

Mexico."



Madeline listened and gazed with straining eyes, and wondered if this

was only a stupendous mirage, and why it seemed so different from all

else that she had seen, and so endless, so baffling, so grand.



"It'll sure take you a little while to get used to being up high and

seeing so much," explained Florence. "That's the secret--we're up high,

the air is clear, and there's the whole bare world beneath us. Don't

it somehow rest you? Well, it will. Now see those specks in the valley.

They are stations, little towns. The railroad goes down that way. The

largest speck is Chiricahua. It's over forty miles by trail. Here round

to the north you can see Don Carlos's rancho. He's fifteen miles off,

and I sure wish he were a thousand. That little green square about

half-way between here and Don Carlos--that's Al's ranch. Just below us

are the adobe houses of the Mexicans. There's a church, too. And here to

the left you see Stillwell's corrals and bunk-houses and his stables all

falling to pieces. The ranch has gone to ruin. All the ranches are going

to ruin. But most of them are little one-horse affairs. And here--see

that cloud of dust down in the valley? It's the round-up. The boys are

there, and the cattle. Wait, I'll get the glasses."



By their aid Madeline saw in the foreground a great, dense herd of

cattle with dark, thick streams and dotted lines of cattle leading in

every direction. She saw streaks and clouds of dust, running horses, and

a band of horses grazing; and she descried horsemen standing still like

sentinels, and others in action.



"The round-up! I want to know all about it--to see it," declared

Madeline. "Please tell me what it means, what it's for, and then take me

down there."



"It's sure a sight, Miss Hammond. I'll be glad to take you down, but I

fancy you'll not want to go close. Few Eastern people who regularly eat

their choice cuts of roast beef and porterhouse have any idea of the

open range and the struggle cattle have to live and the hard life of

cowboys. It'll sure open your eyes, Miss Hammond. I'm glad you care to

know. Your brother would have made a big success in this cattle business

if it hadn't been for crooked work by rival ranchers. He'll make it yet,

in spite of them."



"Indeed he shall," replied Madeline. "But tell me, please, all about the

round-up."



"Well, in the first place, every cattleman has to have a brand to

identify his stock. Without it no cattleman, nor half a hundred cowboys,

if he had so many, could ever recognize all the cattle in a big herd.

There are no fences on our ranges. They are all open to everybody. Some

day I hope we'll be rich enough to fence a range. The different herds

graze together. Every calf has to be caught, if possible, and branded

with the mark of its mother. That's no easy job. A maverick is an

unbranded calf that has been weaned and shifts for itself. The maverick

then belongs to the man who finds it and brands it. These little calves

that lose their mothers sure have a cruel time of it. Many of them die.

Then the coyotes and wolves and lions prey on them. Every year we have

two big round-ups, but the boys do some branding all the year. A calf

should be branded as soon as it's found. This is a safeguard against

cattle-thieves. We don't have the rustling of herds and bunches of

cattle like we used to. But there's always the calf-thief, and always

will be as long as there's cattle-raising. The thieves have a good many

cunning tricks. They kill the calf's mother or slit the calf's tongue

so it can't suck and so loses its mother. They steal and hide a calf

and watch it till it's big enough to fare for itself, and then brand it.

They make imperfect brands and finish them at a later time.



"We have our big round-up in the fall, when there's plenty of grass and

water, and all the riding-stock as well as the cattle are in fine shape.

The cattlemen in the valley meet with their cowboys and drive in all the

cattle they can find. Then they brand and cut out each man's herd

and drive it toward home. Then they go on up or down the valley, make

another camp, and drive in more cattle. It takes weeks. There are

so many Greasers with little bands of stock, and they are crafty and

greedy. Bill says he knows Greaser cowboys, vaqueros, who never owned

a steer or a cow, and now they've got growing herds. The same might be

said of more than one white cowboy. But there's not as much of that as

there used to be."



"And the horses? I want to know about them," said Madeline, when

Florence paused.



"Oh, the cow-ponies! Well, they sure are interesting. Broncos, the boys

call them. Wild! they're wilder than the steers they have to chase.

Bill's got broncos heah that never have been broken and never will be.

And not every boy can ride them, either. The vaqueros have the finest

horses. Don Carlos has a black that I'd give anything to own. And he

has other fine stock. Gene Stewart's big roan is a Mexican horse, the

swiftest and proudest I ever saw. I was up on him once and--oh, he can

run! He likes a woman, too, and that's sure something I want in a horse.

I heard Al and Bill talking at breakfast about a horse for you. They

were wrangling. Bill wanted you to have one, and Al another. It was

funny to hear them. Finally they left the choice to me, until the

round-up is over. Then I suppose every cowboy on the range will offer

you his best mount. Come, let's go out to the corrals and look over the

few horses left."



For Madeline the morning hours flew by, with a goodly part of the time

spent on the porch gazing out over that ever-changing vista. At noon

a teamster drove up with her trunks. Then while Florence helped the

Mexican woman get lunch Madeline unpacked part of her effects and got

out things for which she would have immediate need. After lunch she

changed her dress for a riding-habit and, going outside, found Florence

waiting with the horses.



The Western girl's clear eyes seemed to take stock of Madeline's

appearance in one swift, inquisitive glance and then shone with

pleasure.



"You sure look--you're a picture, Miss Hammond. That riding-outfit is

a new one. What it 'd look like on me or another woman I can't imagine,

but on you it's--it's stunning. Bill won't let you go within a mile of

the cowboys. If they see you that'll be the finish of the round-up."



While they rode down the slope Florence talked about the open ranges of

New Mexico and Arizona.



"Water is scarce," she said. "If Bill could afford to pipe water down

from the mountains he'd have the finest ranch in the valley."



She went on to tell that the climate was mild in winter and hot in

summer. Warm, sunshiny days prevailed nearly all the year round. Some

summers it rained, and occasionally there would be a dry year, the

dreaded ano seco of the Mexicans. Rain was always expected and prayed

for in the midsummer months, and when it came the grama-grass sprang

up, making the valleys green from mountain to mountain. The intersecting

valleys, ranging between the long slope of foothills, afforded the best

pasture for cattle, and these were jealously sought by the Mexicans

who had only small herds to look after. Stillwell's cowboys were always

chasing these vaqueros off land that belonged to Stillwell. He owned

twenty thousand acres of unfenced land adjoining the open range. Don

Carlos possessed more acreage than that, and his cattle were always

mingling with Stillwell's. And in turn Don Carlos's vaqueros were always

chasing Stillwell's cattle away from the Mexican's watering-place. Bad

feeling had been manifested for years, and now relations were strained

to the breaking-point.



As Madeline rode along she made good use of her eyes. The soil was

sandy and porous, and she understood why the rain and water from the

few springs disappeared so quickly. At a little distance the grama-grass

appeared thick, but near at hand it was seen to be sparse. Bunches of

greasewood and cactus plants were interspersed here and there in

the grass. What surprised Madeline was the fact that, though she and

Florence had seemed to be riding quite awhile, they had apparently not

drawn any closer to the round-up. The slope of the valley was noticeable

only after some miles had been traversed. Looking forward, Madeline

imagined the valley only a few miles wide. She would have been sure she

could walk her horse across it in an hour. Yet that black, bold range

of Chiricahua Mountains was distant a long day's journey for even a

hard-riding cowboy. It was only by looking back that Madeline could

grasp the true relation of things; she could not be deceived by distance

she had covered.



Gradually the black dots enlarged and assumed shape of cattle and horses

moving round a great dusty patch. In another half-hour Madeline rode

behind Florence to the outskirts of the scene of action. They drew rein

near a huge wagon in the neighborhood of which were more than a hundred

horses grazing and whistling and trotting about and lifting heads to

watch the new-comers. Four cowboys stood mounted guard over this drove

of horses. Perhaps a quarter of a mile farther out was a dusty melee.

A roar of tramping hoofs filled Madeline's ears. The lines of marching

cattle had merged into a great, moving herd half obscured by dust.



"I can make little of what is going on," said Madeline. "I want to go

closer."



They trotted across half the intervening distance, and when Florence

halted again Madeline was still not satisfied and asked to be taken

nearer. This time, before they reined in again, Al Hammond saw them and

wheeled his horse in their direction. He yelled something which Madeline

did not understand, and then halted them.



"Close enough," he called; and in the din his voice was not very clear.

"It's not safe. Wild steers! I'm glad you came, girls. Majesty, what do

you think of that bunch of cattle?"



Madeline could scarcely reply what she thought, for the noise and dust

and ceaseless action confused her.



"They're milling, Al," said Florence.



"We just rounded them up. They're milling, and that's bad. The vaqueros

are hard drivers. They beat us all hollow, and we drove some, too." He

was wet with sweat, black with dust, and out of breath. "I'm off now.

Flo, my sister will have enough of this in about two minutes. Take her

back to the wagon. I'll tell Bill you're here, and run in whenever I get

a minute."



The bawling and bellowing, the crackling of horns and pounding of hoofs,

the dusty whirl of cattle, and the flying cowboys disconcerted Madeline

and frightened her a little; but she was intensely interested and meant

to stay there until she saw for herself what that strife of sound and

action meant. When she tried to take in the whole scene she did not make

out anything clearly and she determined to see it little by little.



"Will you stay longer?" asked Florence; and, receiving an affirmative

reply, she warned Madeline: "If a runaway steer or angry cow comes this

way let your horse go. He'll get out of the way."



That lent the situation excitement, and Madeline became absorbed. The

great mass of cattle seemed to be eddying like a whirlpool, and from

that Madeline understood the significance of the range word "milling."

But when Madeline looked at one end of the herd she saw cattle standing

still, facing outward, and calves cringing close in fear. The motion

of the cattle slowed from the inside of the herd to the outside and

gradually ceased. The roar and tramp of hoofs and crack of horns and

thump of heads also ceased in degree, but the bawling and bellowing

continued. While she watched, the herd spread, grew less dense, and

stragglers appeared to be about to bolt through the line of mounted

cowboys.



From that moment so many things happened, and so swiftly, that Madeline

could not see a tenth of what was going on within eyesight. It seemed

horsemen darted into the herd and drove out cattle. Madeline pinned her

gaze on one cowboy who rode a white horse and was chasing a steer. He

whirled a lasso around his head and threw it; the rope streaked out

and the loop caught the leg of the steer. The white horse stopped with

wonderful suddenness, and the steer slid in the dust. Quick as a flash

the cowboy was out of the saddle, and, grasping the legs of the steer

before it could rise, he tied them with a rope. It had all been done

almost as quickly as thought. Another man came with what Madeline

divined was a branding-iron. He applied it to the flank of the steer.

Then it seemed the steer was up with a jump, wildly looking for some way

to run, and the cowboy was circling his lasso. Madeline saw fires in the

background, with a man in charge, evidently heating the irons. Then this

same cowboy roped a heifer which bawled lustily when the hot iron seared

its hide. Madeline saw the smoke rising from the touch of the iron,

and the sight made her shrink and want to turn away, but she resolutely

fought her sensitiveness. She had never been able to bear the sight of

any animal suffering. The rough work in men's lives was as a sealed book

to her; and now, for some reason beyond her knowledge, she wanted to

see and hear and learn some of the every-day duties that made up those

lives.



"Look, Miss Hammond, there's Don Carlos!" said Florence. "Look at that

black horse!"



Madeleine saw a dark-faced Mexican riding by. He was too far away for

her to distinguish his features, but he reminded her of an Italian

brigand. He bestrode a magnificent horse.



Stillwell rode up to the girls then and greeted them in his big voice.



"Right in the thick of it, hey? Wal, thet's sure fine. I'm glad to see,

Miss Majesty, thet you ain't afraid of a little dust or smell of burnin'

hide an' hair."



"Couldn't you brand the calves without hurting them?" asked Madeline.



"Haw, haw! Why, they ain't hurt none. They jest bawl for their mammas.

Sometimes, though, we hev to hurt one jest to find which is his mamma."



"I want to know how you tell what brand to put on those calves that are

separated from their mothers," asked Madeline.



"Thet's decided by the round-up bosses. I've one boss an' Don Carlos

has one. They decide everything, an' they hev to be obyed. There's Nick

Steele, my boss. Watch him! He's ridin' a bay in among the cattle there.

He orders the calves an' steers to be cut out. Then the cowboys do the

cuttin' out an' the brandin'. We try to divide up the mavericks as near

as possible."



At this juncture Madeline's brother joined the group, evidently in

search of Stillwell.



"Bill, Nels just rode in," he said.



"Good! We sure need him. Any news of Danny Mains?"



"No. Nels said he lost the trail when he got on hard ground."



"Wal, wal. Say, Al, your sister is sure takin' to the round-up. An' the

boys are gettin' wise. See thet sun-of-a-gun Ambrose cuttin' capers

all around. He'll sure do his prettiest. Ambrose is a ladies' man, he

thinks."



The two men and Florence joined in a little pleasant teasing of

Madeline, and drew her attention to what appeared to be really

unnecessary feats of horsemanship all made in her vicinity. The cowboys

evinced their interest in covert glances while recoiling a lasso or

while passing to and fro. It was all too serious for Madeline to be

amused at that moment. She did not care to talk. She sat her horse and

watched.



The lithe, dark vaqueros fascinated her. They were here, there,

everywhere, with lariats flying, horses plunging back, jerking calves

and yearlings to the grass. They were cruel to their mounts, cruel to

their cattle. Madeline winced as the great silver rowels of the spurs

went plowing into the flanks of their horses. She saw these spurs

stained with blood, choked with hair. She saw the vaqueros break the

legs of calves and let them lie till a white cowboy came along and shot

them. Calves were jerked down and dragged many yards; steers were pulled

by one leg. These vaqueros were the most superb horsemen Madeline had

ever seen, and she had seen the Cossacks and Tatars of the Russian

steppes. They were swift, graceful, daring; they never failed to catch

a running steer, and the lassoes always went true. What sharp dashes

the horses made, and wheelings here and there, and sudden stops, and how

they braced themselves to withstand the shock!



The cowboys, likewise, showed wonderful horsemanship, and, reckless as

they were, Madeline imagined she saw consideration for steed and cattle

that was wanting in the vaqueros. They changed mounts oftener than the

Mexican riders, and the horses they unsaddled for fresh ones were not so

spent, so wet, so covered with lather. It was only after an hour or more

of observation that Madeline began to realize the exceedingly toilsome

and dangerous work cowboys had to perform. There was little or no rest

for them. They were continually among wild and vicious and wide-horned

steers. In many instances they owed their lives to their horses. The

danger came mostly when the cowboy leaped off to tie and brand a calf he

had thrown. Some of the cows charged with lowered, twisting horns. Time

and again Madeline's heart leaped to her throat for fear a man would be

gored. One cowboy roped a calf that bawled loudly. Its mother dashed in

and just missed the kneeling cowboy as he rolled over. Then he had to

run, and he could not run very fast. He was bow-legged and appeared

awkward. Madeline saw another cowboy thrown and nearly run over by a

plunging steer. His horse bolted as if it intended to leave the range.

Then close by Madeline a big steer went down at the end of a lasso.

The cowboy who had thrown it nimbly jumped down, and at that moment his

horse began to rear and prance and suddenly to lower his head close to

the ground and kick high. He ran round in a circle, the fallen steer on

the taut lasso acting as a pivot. The cowboy loosed the rope from the

steer, and then was dragged about on the grass. It was almost frightful

for Madeline to see that cowboy go at his horse. But she recognized the

mastery and skill. Then two horses came into collision on the run. One

horse went down; the rider of the other was unseated and was kicked

before he could get up. This fellow limped to his mount and struck at

him, while the horse showed his teeth in a vicious attempt to bite.



All the while this ceaseless activity was going on there was a strange

uproar--bawl and bellow, the shock of heavy bodies meeting and falling,

the shrill jabbering of the vaqueros, and the shouts and banterings of

the cowboys. They took sharp orders and replied in jest. They went about

this stern toil as if it were a game to be played in good humor. One

sang a rollicking song, another whistled, another smoked a cigarette.

The sun was hot, and they, like their horses, were dripping with sweat.

The characteristic red faces had taken on so much dust that cowboys

could not be distinguished from vaqueros except by the difference in

dress. Blood was not wanting on tireless hands. The air was thick,

oppressive, rank with the smell of cattle and of burning hide.



Madeline began to sicken. She choked with dust, was almost stifled

by the odor. But that made her all the more determined to stay there.

Florence urged her to come away, or at least move back out of the

worst of it. Stillwell seconded Florence. Madeline, however, smilingly

refused. Then her brother said: "Here, this is making you sick. You're

pale." And she replied that she intended to stay until the day's work

ended. Al gave her a strange look, and made no more comment. The kindly

Stillwell then began to talk.



"Miss Majesty, you're seein' the life of the cattleman an' cowboy--the

real thing--same as it was in the early days. The ranchers in Texas an'

some in Arizona hev took on style, new-fangled idees thet are good,

an' I wish we could follow them. But we've got to stick to the

old-fashioned, open-range round-up. It looks cruel to you, I can see

thet. Wal, mebbe so, mebbe so. Them Greasers are cruel, thet's certain.

Fer thet matter, I never seen a Greaser who wasn't cruel. But I reckon

all the strenuous work you've seen to-day ain't any tougher than most

any day of a cowboy's life. Long hours on hossback, poor grub, sleepin'

on the ground, lonesome watches, dust an' sun an' wind an' thirst, day

in an' day out all the year round--thet's what a cowboy has.



"Look at Nels there. See, what little hair he has is snow-white. He's

red an' thin an' hard--burned up. You notice thet hump of his shoulders.

An' his hands, when he gets close--jest take a peep at his hands. Nels

can't pick up a pin. He can't hardly button his shirt or untie a knot in

his rope. He looks sixty years--an old man. Wal, Nels 'ain't seen forty.

He's a young man, but he's seen a lifetime fer every year. Miss Majesty,

it was Arizona thet made Nels what he is, the Arizona desert an' the

work of a cowman. He's seen ridin' at Canyon Diablo an' the Verdi an'

Tonto Basin. He knows every mile of Aravaipa Valley an' the Pinaleno

country. He's ranged from Tombstone to Douglas. He hed shot bad white

men an' bad Greasers before he was twenty-one. He's seen some life, Nels

has. My sixty years ain't nothin'; my early days in the Staked Plains

an' on the border with Apaches ain't nothin' to what Nels has seen an'

lived through. He's just come to be part of the desert; you might say

he's stone an' fire an' silence an' cactus an' force. He's a man, Miss

Majesty, a wonderful man. Rough he'll seem to you. Wal, I'll show you

pieces of quartz from the mountains back of my ranch an' they're thet

rough they'd cut your hands. But there's pure gold in them. An' so it is

with Nels an' many of these cowboys.



"An' there's Price--Monty Price. Monty stands fer Montana, where he

hails from. Take a good look at him, Miss Majesty. He's been hurt, I

reckon. Thet accounts fer him bein' without hoss or rope; an' thet limp.

Wal, he's been ripped a little. It's sure rare an seldom thet a cowboy

gets foul of one of them thousands of sharp horns; but it does happen."



Madeline saw a very short, wizened little man, ludicrously bow-legged,

with a face the color and hardness of a burned-out cinder. He was

hobbling by toward the wagon, and one of his short, crooked legs

dragged.



"Not much to look at, is he?" went on Stillwell. "Wal; I know it's

natural thet we're all best pleased by good looks in any one, even a

man. It hedn't ought to be thet way. Monty Price looks like hell. But

appearances are sure deceivin'. Monty saw years of ridin' along the

Missouri bottoms, the big prairies, where there's high grass an'

sometimes fires. In Montana they have blizzards that freeze cattle

standin' in their tracks. An' hosses freeze to death. They tell me thet

a drivin' sleet in the face with the mercury forty below is somethin' to

ride against. You can't get Monty to say much about cold. All you hev

to do is to watch him, how he hunts the sun. It never gets too hot fer

Monty. Wal, I reckon he was a little more prepossessin' once. The story

thet come to us about Monty is this: He got caught out in a prairie fire

an' could hev saved himself easy, but there was a lone ranch right in

the line of fire, an' Monty knowed the rancher was away, an' his wife

an' baby was home. He knowed, too, the way the wind was, thet the

ranch-house would burn. It was a long chance he was takin'. But he went

over, put the woman up behind him, wrapped the baby an' his hoss's haid

in a wet blanket, an' rode away. Thet was sure some ride, I've heerd.

But the fire ketched Monty at the last. The woman fell an' was lost,

an' then his hoss. An' Monty ran an' walked an' crawled through the fire

with thet baby, an' he saved it. Monty was never much good as a cowboy

after thet. He couldn't hold no jobs. Wal, he'll have one with me as

long as I have a steer left."





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