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desperate galloping, they may head them off, wild and dangerous to a degree, especially if get them running in a circle, and finally stop the man gets caught in the rush of the beasts. them. Once stopped, they may break again, It also frequently necessitates an immense and possibly divide up, one cowboy, perhaps, amount of work in collecting the scattered following each band. I have known six such animals. On one such occasion a small party stops and renewed stampedes to take place in of us were thirty-six hours in the saddle, disone night, the cowboy staying with his ever- mounting only to change horses or to eat. We diminishing herd of steers until daybreak, were almost worn out at the end of the time; when he managed to get them under control but it must be kept in mind that for a long again, and, by careful humoring of his jaded, spell of such work a stock-saddle is far less staggering horse, finally brought those that tiring than the ordinary Eastern or English were left back to the camp several miles dis- one, and in every way superior to it. tant. The riding in these night stampedes is By very hard riding, such a stampede may sometimes be prevented. Once we were off to their help through the blinding rain. bringing a thousand head of young cattle Some of us at once ran out to our own saddledown to my lower ranch, and as the river was band. All of the ponies were standing hudhigh were obliged to take the inland trail. dled together, with their heads down and their The third night we were forced to make a tails to the wind. They were wild and restive dry camp, the cattle having had no water enough usually; but the storm had cowed since the morning. Nevertheless, we got them them, and we were able to catch them withbedded down without difficulty, and one of out either rope or halter. We made quick the cowboys and myself stood first guard. work of saddling; and the second each man But very soon after nightfall, when the dark- was ready, away he loped through the dusk, ness had become complete, the thirsty brutes splashing and slipping in the pools of water of one accord got on their feet and tried to that studded the muddy plain. Most of the break out. The only salvation was to keep riders were already out when we arrived. The them close together, as, if they once got scat- cattle were gathered in a compact, wedgetered, we knew they could never be gathered; shaped, or rather fan-shaped mass, with their so I kept on one side, and the cowboy on tails to the wind — that is, towards the thin the other, and never in my life did I ride so end of the wedge or fan. In front of this fanhard. In the darkness I could but dimly see shaped mass of frightened, maddened beasts the shadowy outlines of the herd, as with was a long line of cowboys, each muffled in whip and spurs I ran the pony along its edge, his slicker and with his broad hat pulled down turning back the beasts at one point barely over his eyes, to shield him from the pelting in time to wheel and keep them in at another. rain. When the cattle were quiet for a moThe ground was cut up by numerous little ment every horseman at once turned round gullies, and each of us got several falls, horses with his back to the wind, and the whole line and riders turning complete somersaults. We stood as motionless as so many sentries. Then, were dripping with sweat, and our ponies if the cattle began to spread out and overlap quivering and trembling like quaking aspens, at the ends, or made a rush and broke through when, after more than an hour of the most at one part of the lines, there would be a violent exertion, we finally got the herd change into wild activity. The men, shouting quieted again.
and swaying in their saddles, darted to and On another occasion while with the round-fro with reckless speed, utterly heedless of up we were spared an excessively unpleasant danger—now racing to the threatened point, night only because there happened to be two now checking and wheeling their horses so or three great corrals not more than a mile sharply as to bring them square on their or so away. All day long it had been raining haunches, or even throw them fiat down, while heavily, and we were well drenched; but to- the hoofs plowed long furrows in the slippery wards evening it lulled a little, and the day soil, until, after some minutes of this mad galherd, a very large one, of some two thousand loping hither and thither, the herd, having head, was gathered on an open bottom. We drifted a hundred yards or so, would be once had turned the horses loose, and in our oil- more brought up standing. We always had skin slickers cowered, soaked and comfortless, to let them drift a little to prevent their spreadunder the lee of the wagon, to take a meal ing out too much. The din of the thunder of damp bread and lukewarm tea, the sizzling was terrific, peal following peal until they embers of the fire having about given up the mingled in one continuous, rumbling roar; and ghost after a fruitless struggle with the steady at every thunder-clap louder than its fellows downpour. Suddenly the wind began to come the cattle would try to break away. Darkness in quick, sharp gusts, and soon a regular bliz- had set in, but each flash of lightning showed zard was blowing, driving the rain in stinging us a dense array of tossing horns and staring level sheets before it. Just as we were prepar- eyes. It grew always harder to hold in the ing to turn into bed, with the certainty of a herd; but the drift took us along to the corrals night of more or less chilly misery ahead of already spoken of, whose entrances were luckus, one of my men, an iron-faced personage, ily to windward. As soon as we reached the whom no one would ever have dreamed had a first we cut off part of the herd, and turned weakness for poetry, looked towards the plain it within; and after again doing this with the where the cattle were, and remarked, " I guess second, we were able to put all the remaining there's “racing and chasing on Cannobie Lea' animals into the third. The instant the cattle now, sure.” Following his gaze, I saw that were housed five-sixths of the horsemen started the cattle had begun to drift before the storm, back at full speed for the wagons; the rest of the night guards being evidently unable to us barely waited to put up the bars and make cope with them, while at the other wagons the corrals secure before galloping after them. riders were saddling in hot haste and spurring We had to ride right in the teeth of the driv
ing storm; and once at the wagons we made rose from under my horse's feet so heavily small delay in crawling in under our blankets, that, thoughtlessly striking at it, I cut it down damp though the latter were, for we were our with my whip; while when a jack rabbit got selves far too wet, stiff, and cold not to hail up ahead of us, it was barely able to limp with grateful welcome any kind of shelter clumsily out of our way. from the wind and the rain.
But though there is much work and hardAll animals were benumbed by the violence ship, rough fare, monotony, and exposure conof this gale of cold rain: a prairie-chicken nected with the round-up, yet there are few
men who do not look forward to it and back familiar ground, we were for a moment almost to it with pleasure. The only fault to be found as startled as if we had seen a ghost. is that the hours of work are so long that one The burning mines are uncanny places, any. does not usually have enough time to sleep. how. A strong smell of sulphur hangs round The food, if rough, is good. The men are them, the heated earth crumbles and cracks, good-humored, bold, and thoroughly inter- and through the long clefts that form in it we ested in their business, continually vying with can see the lurid glow of the subterranean one another in the effort to see which can do fires, with here and there tongues of blue or the work best. It is superbly health-giving, cherry colored flame dancing up to the surand is full of excitement and adventure, call- face. ing for the exhibition of pluck, self-reliance, The winters vary greatly in severity, howhardihood, and dashing horsemanship; and of ever. During some seasons men can go lightly all forms of physical labor the easiest and clad even in January and February, and the pleasantest is to sit in the saddle.
cattle hardly suffer at all; during others there The scenery is often exceedingly striking in will be spells of bitter weather, accompanied character, especially in the Bad Lands, with by furious blizzards, which render it impossitheir queer fantastic formations. Among the ble for days and weeks at a time for men to most interesting features are the burning stir out-of-doors at all, save at the risk of their mines. These are formed by the coal seams lives. Then line rider, ranchman, hunter, and that get on fire. They vary greatly in size. teamster alike all have to keep within doors. Some send up smoke-columns that are visible I have known of several cases of men freezing miles away, while others are not noticeable a to death when caught in shelterless places by few rods off. Theold ones gradually burn away, such a blizzard, a strange fact being that in while new ones unexpectedly break out. Thus, about half of them the doomed man had evilast fall, one suddenly appeared but half a mile dently gone mad before dying, and had from the ranch house. We never knew it was stripped himself of most of his clothes, the there until one cold moonlight night, when we body when found being nearly naked. On were riding home, we rounded the corner of a our ranch we have never had any bad acciravine and saw in our path a tall white column dents, although every winter some of us get of smoke rising from a rift in the snowy crags more or less frost-bitten. My last experience ahead of us. As the trail was over perfectly in this line was while returning by moonlight from a successful hunt after mountain sheep. In the thick brush the stock got some shelThe thermometer was 26° below zero, and ter and sustenance. They gnawed every twig we had had no food for twelve hours. I got and bough they could get at. They browsed numbed, and before I was aware of it had the bitter sage brush down to where the frozen my face, one foot, both knees, and one branches were the thickness of a man's finger. hand. Luckily, I reached the ranch before se. When near a ranch they crowded into the rious damage was done. About once every six out-houses and sheds to die, and fences had or seven years we have a season when these to be built around the windows to keep the storms follow one another almost without in- wild-eyed, desperate beasts from thrusting terval throughout the winter months, and then their heads through the glass panes. In most the loss among the stock is frightful. One such cases it was impossible either to drive them winter occurred in 1880–81. The grass was then to the haystacks or to haul the hay out to so good that the few cattle raised on the range them. The deer even were so weak as to be escaped fairly well, but even then the trail easily run down; and on one or two of the herds were almost destroyed. This was when plateaus where there were bands of antelope, there were very few ranchmen in the country. these wary creatures grew so numbed and The next severe winter'was that of 1886–87, feeble that they could have been slaughtered when the rush of incoming herds had over- like rabbits. But the hunters could hardly get stocked the ranges, and the loss was in con- out, and could bring home neither hide nor sequence fairly appalling, especially to the meat, so the game went unharmed. outfits who had just put on cattle.
It would be impossible to imagine any sight The snow-fall was unprecedented, both for more dreary and melancholy than that offered its depth and for the way it lasted; and it was by the ranges when the snow went off in this, and not the cold, that caused the loss. March. The land was a mere barren waste; About the middle of November the storms not a green thing to be seen; the dead grass began. Day after day the snow came down, eaten off till the country looked as if it had thawing and then freezing and piling itself been shaved with a razor. Occasionally among higher and higher. By January the drifts had the desolate hills a rider would come across filled the ravines and coulées almost level. The a band of gaunt, hollow-flanked cattle feebly snow lay in great masses on the plateaus and cropping the sparse, dry pasturage, too listless river bottoms; and this lasted until the end to move out of the way; and the blackened of February. The preceding summer we had carcasses lay in the sheltered spots, some been visited by a prolonged drought, so that stretched out, others in as natural a position the short, scanty grass was already well cropped as if the animals had merely lain down to rest. down; the snow covered what pasturage there It was small wonder that cheerful stockmen was to the depth of several feet, and the cat- were rare objects that spring. Our only comtle could not get at it at all, and could hardly fort was that we did not, as usual, suffer a heavy move round. It was all but impossible to loss from weak cattle getting mired down in the travel on horseback, except on a few well- springs and mud-holes when the ice broke up beaten trails. Even on the level it was very - for all the weak animals were dead already. tiresome to try to break through the snow, and The truth is, ours is a primitive industry, and it was dangerous to attempt to penetrate the we suffer the reverses as well as enjoy the sucBad Lands, whose shape had been completely cesses only known to primitive peoples. A hard altered by the great white mounds and drifts. winter is to us in the north what a dry sumThe starving cattle died by scores of thousands mer is to Texas or Australia — what seasons of before their helpless owners' eyes. The bulls, famine once were to all peoples. We still live the cows who were suckling calves, or who in an iron age that the old civilized world has were heavy with calf, the weak cattle that had long passed by. The men of the border reckon just been driven upon the trail, and the late upon stern and unending struggles with their calves suffered most; the old range animals iron-bound surroundings; against the grim did better, and the steers best of all; but harshness of their existence they set the the best was bad enough. Even many of the strength and the abounding vitality that horses died. An outfit near me lost half its come with it. They run risks to life and limb saddle-band, the animals having been worked that are unknown to the dwellers in cities; and so hard that they were very thin when fall what the men freely brave, the beasts that they came.
own must also sometimes suffer.