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The Double Trail
Early in the summer of '78 we were rocking along with a herd of Laurel Leaf cattle,
going up the old Chisholm trail in the Indian Territory. The cattle were in charge of Ike
Inks as foreman, and had been sold for delivery somewhere in the Strip.
There were thirty-one hundred head, straight "twos," and in the single ranch brand. We
had been out about four months on the trail, and all felt that a few weeks at the farthest
would let us out, for the day before we had crossed the Cimarron River, ninety miles
south of the state line of Kansas.
The foreman was simply killing time, waiting for orders concerning the delivery of the
cattle. All kinds of jokes were in order, for we all felt that we would soon be set free. One
of our men had been taken sick, as we crossed Red River into the Nations, and not
wanting to cross this Indian country short-handed, Inks had picked up a young fellow
who evidently had never been over the trail before.
He gave the outfit his correct name, on joining us, but it proved unpronounceable, and for
convenience some one rechristened him Lucy, as he had quite a feminine appearance. He
was anxious to learn, and was in evidence in everything that went on.
The trail from the Cimarron to Little Turkey Creek, where we were now camped, had
originally been to the east of the present one, skirting a black-jack country. After being
used several years it had been abandoned, being sandy, and the new route followed up the
bottoms of Big Turkey, since it was firmer soil, affording better footing to cattle. These
two trails came together again at Little Turkey. At no place were they over two or three
miles apart, and from where they separated to where they came together again was about
seven miles.
It troubled Lucy not to know why this was thus. Why did these routes separate and come
together again? He was fruitful with inquiries as to where this trail or that road led. The
boss-man had a vein of humor in his make-up, though it was not visible; so he told the
young man that he did not know, as he had been over this route but once before, but he
thought that Stubb, who was then on herd, could tell him how it was; he had been over
the trail every year since it was laid out. This was sufficient to secure Stubb an interview,
as soon as he was relieved from duty and had returned to the wagon. So Ike posted one of
the men who was next on guard to tell Stubb what to expect, and to be sure to tell it to
him scary.
A brief description of Stubb necessarily intrudes, though this nickname describes the
man. Extremely short in stature, he was inclined to be fleshy. In fact, a rear view of Stubb
looked as though some one had hollowed out a place to set his head between his ample
shoulders. But a front view revealed a face like a full moon. In disposition he was very
amiable. His laugh was enough to drive away the worst case of the blues. It bubbled up
from some inward source and seemed perennial. His worst fault was his bar-room