Reed Anthony, Cowman HTML version

III. A Second Trip To Fort Sumner
On the return trip we traveled mainly by night. The proceeds from the sale of the
herd were in the wagon, and had this fact been known it would have been a
tempting prize for either bandits or Indians. After leaving Horsehead Crossing we
had the advantage of the dark of the moon, as it was a well-known fact that the
Comanches usually choose moonlight nights for their marauding expeditions.
Another thing in our favor, both going and returning, was the lightness of travel
westward, it having almost ceased during the civil war, though in '66 it showed a
slight prospect of resumption. Small bands of Indians were still abroad on horse-
stealing forays, but the rich prizes of wagon trains bound for El Paso or Santa Fé
no longer tempted the noble red man in force. This was favorable wind to our
sail, but these plainsmen drovers predicted that, once traffic westward was
resumed, the Comanche and his ally would be about the first ones to know it.
The redskins were constantly passing back and forth, to and from their
reservation in the Indian Territory, and news travels fast even among savages.
We reached the Brazos River early in August. As the second start was not to be
made until the latter part of the following month, a general settlement was made
with the men and all reëngaged for the next trip. I received eighty dollars in gold
as my portion, it being the first money I ever earned as a citizen. The past two
months were a splendid experience for one going through a formative period,
and I had returned feeling that I was once more a man among men. All the
uncertainty as to my future had fallen from me, and I began to look forward to the
day when I also might be the owner of lands and cattle. There was no good
reason why I should not, as the range was as free as it was boundless. There
were any quantity of wild cattle in the country awaiting an owner, and a good
mount of horses, a rope, and a branding iron were all the capital required to start
a brand. I knew the success which my father had made in Virginia before the war
and had seen it repeated on a smaller scale by my elder brother in Missouri, but
here was a country which discounted both of those in rearing cattle without
expense. Under the best reasoning at my command, I had reached the promised
land, and henceforth determined to cast my fortunes with Texas.
Rather than remain idle around the Loving headquarters for a month, I returned
with George Edwards to his home. Altogether too cordial a welcome was
extended us, but I repaid the hospitality of the ranch by relating our experiences
of trail and Indian surprise. Miss Gertrude was as charming as ever, but the trip
to Sumner and back had cooled my ardor and I behaved myself as an acceptable
guest should. The time passed rapidly, and on the last day of the month we
returned to Belknap. Active preparations were in progress for the driving of the
second herd, oxen had been secured, and a number of extra fine horses were
already added to the saddle stock. The remuda had enjoyed a good month's rest
and were in strong working flesh, and within a few days all the boys reported for