Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/133

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pull trigger. I have heard of good shots on horseback with a pistol, but haven't struck any yet. I skinned my bear and brought the hide into camp, when I rather surprised "the boys," as though we knew there were bears down here, having seen their tracks, we did not expect to see them without hunting them. Ley Dyer (one of the boys) has "shot a bear since, and we have been living on him for some time. The meat is the most delicious you can imagine. I never saw any meat as fat as the bears we have killed. Their skins are so glossy, and when running they seem to tremble all over. The only kind of bear we have seen yet is the black bear. On the 5th, I struck "an outfit," hunting a cattle range. They were rather vague about where they were, and from what they told me they were thirty miles out of their reckoning, and they did not even know the name of our river, although they knew that it was somewhere in the country. The next day I struck two fellows hunting cows, or rather travelling over the country on the spec, of finding cattle which a large company lost on the drive from Texas to Kansas. The "Texas drive" this year was about two hundred and seventy thousand head of cattle. The company they are working for lost about two thousand, and drove about seventy-five thousand. One of the fellows is a Scotchman, and reminded me very much of John; they are here yet, and will be, as long as they like. Anybody striking an out-of-the-way place like this stays there as long as he feels so disposed. On the 15th, we finished the first room of our house, and so felt easy about future storms. On the 16th, we went down the river to kill some turkeys for Christmas, and on a little stream about fourteen miles down we got fourteen. I killed my first (I have just come out of doors from helping to "get away" with the last of them). The reason I have been seeing everybody is that I am the only one riding every day, as the cattle are very little trouble now, and seem contented (I don't know if it is because they can hardly get out), and the rest of the boys have been working on the house and corrals. On the 22nd, I washed all my clothes, a very great undertaking, as I had a large collection — in fact, every stitch I possessed — not having washed. my clothes since we left the Canadian. On the 23rd and 24th it snowed. We all shaved and "greased up" with bear-oil for Christmas, — the only thing we could think of doing, as we had run out of all grub except flour; but then flour, bear, buffalo, and turkey is pretty good lining. On the 25th, Christmas-day, Ley started up country to find what had become of our provisions, and corn for the horses, as they were over-due nearly a month. It snowed again on the 28th, and the snow is on the ground yet. We all think it must have been a pretty severe storm in the outer world (i.e., out of the caÑon), as we are pretty far south. Yesterday we repeated the shaving and greasing-up for the new year. It is very curious how it changes fellows, shaving off their beards. Ley Dyer has a very slight growth on the upper lip, and shaving it off made him look very long-faced and large-toothed. Dane (another boy) is also ambitious as to his upper lip, and so shaved it, and his side-whiskers, and underneath his chin, till he looks rather like a navvy, and a pugilistic one "at that." They say that Johnson and I look like "winged outfits" about the head, as nobody wears side-whiskers out West. All these items I gather from my almanac, which I have kept ever since I struck the States, and am sorry the new one has not come in time to begin on at once. I now, having got rid as it were of the old year, will wish you all, or rather will hope you have had a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I did hope to get off a letter in time for Christmas. These fellows, the lost cattle-hunters, who in their travels of six weeks struck Fort Elliot, with the exception of which they never saw a white man till they came here, say it is one hundred miles any way you make it. You may think it strange that we do not start out and go there, but any journey down here means two fellows away for an indefinite time, and our horses are too poor (through delay of corn) for us to hunt anything but cattle, although, of course, we should like to go to the fort for letters. They have a weekly mail there which comes from Fort Dodge on the railway. They call it two hundred miles from Elliot to Dodge. I do really hope you are beginning to understand the amount of uninhabited country in these parts, — it has become a pet hobby of mine thinking about it. The buffalo are pretty thick here. The main herd is about one hundred and fifty miles south-east of us. The Scotchman saw it two years ago, and says it was about one hundred miles long and fifty broad, and I have always heard they are pretty close packed in the main herd. I don't think I told you about the first buffalo I killed. I was luckily on "Cubby," who, as you