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A Texas Matchmaker

XII. Summer Of '77
During our trip into Mexico the fall before, Deweese contracted for three
thousand cows at two haciendas on the Rio San Juan. Early in the spring June
and I returned to receive the cattle. The ranch outfit under Uncle Lance was to
follow some three weeks later and camp on the American side at Roma, Texas.
We made arrangements as we crossed into Mexico with a mercantile house in
Mier to act as our bankers, depositing our own drafts and taking letters of credit
to the interior. In buying the cows we had designated Mier, which was just
opposite Roma, as the place for settlement and Uncle Lance on his arrival
brought drafts to cover our purchases, depositing them with the same merchant.
On receiving, we used a tally mark which served as a road brand, thus
preventing a second branding, and throughout--much to the disgust of the
Mexican vaqueros--Deweese enforced every humane idea which Nancrede had
practiced the spring before in accepting the trail herd at Las Palomas. There
were endless quantities of stock cattle to select from on the two haciendas, and
when ready to start, under the specifications, a finer lot of cows would have been
hard to find. The worst drawback was that they were constantly dropping calves
on the road, and before we reached the river we had a calf-wagon in regular use.
On arriving at the Rio Grande, the then stage of water was fortunately low and
we crossed the herd without a halt, the import papers having been attended to in
Uncle Lance believed in plenty of help, and had brought down from Las Palomas
an ample outfit of men and horses. He had also anticipated the dropping of
calves and had rigged up a carrier, the box of which was open framework. Thus
until a calf was strong enough to follow, the mother, as she trailed along beside
the wagon, could keep an eye on her offspring. We made good drives the first
two or three days; but after clearing the first bottoms of the Rio Grande and on
reaching the tablelands, we made easy stages of ten to twelve miles a day.
When near enough to calculate on our arrival at Las Palomas, the old ranchero
quit us and went on into the ranch. Several days later a vaquero met the herd
about thirty miles south of Santa Maria, and brought the information that the
Valverde outfit was at the ranch, and instructions to veer westward and drive
down the Ganso on approaching the Nueces. By these orders the delivery on the
home river would occur at least twenty miles west of the ranch headquarters.
As we were passing to the westward of Santa Maria, our employer and one of
the buyers rode out from that ranch and met the herd. They had decided not to
brand until arriving at their destination on the Devil's River, which would take
them at least a month longer. While this deviation was nothing to us, it was a
gain to them. The purchaser was delighted with the cattle and our handling of
them, there being fully a thousand young calves, and on reaching their camp on
the Ganso, the delivery was completed--four days in advance of the specified
time. For fear of losses, we had received a few head extra, and, on counting