The mule walked deliberately forward out of the gate. Her recent conduct had inspired him with so much awe that he never dared to touch her with his whip. We trotted forward toward the place of meeting, but before he had gone far we saw that Tete Rouge’s mule, who perfectly understood her rider, had stopped and was quietly grazing, in spite of his protestations, at some distance behind. So getting behind him, we drove him and the contumacious mule before us, until we could see through the twilight the gleaming of a distant fire. Munroe, Jim, and Ellis were lying around it; their saddles, packs, and weapons were scattered about and their horses picketed near them. Delorier was there too with our little cart. Another fire was soon blazing high. We invited our new allies to take a cup of coffee with us. When both the others had gone over to their side of the camp, Jim Gurney still stood by the blaze, puffing hard at his little black pipe, as short and weather-beaten as himself.
“Well!” he said, “here are eight of us; we’ll call it six—for them two boobies, Ellis over yonder, and that new man of yours, won’t count for anything. We’ll get through well enough, never fear for that, unless the Comanches happen to get foul of us.”
We began our journey for the frontier settlements on the 27th of August, and certainly a more ragamuffin cavalcade never was seen on the banks of the Upper Arkansas. Of the large and fine horses with which we had left the frontier in the spring, not one remained; we had supplied their place with the rough breed of the prairie, as hardy as mules and almost as ugly; we had also with us a number of the latter detestable animals. In spite of their strength and hardihood, several of the band were already worn down by hard service and hard fare, and as none of them were shod, they were fast becoming foot-sore. Every horse and mule had a cord of twisted bull-hide coiled around his neck, which by no means added to the beauty of his appearance. Our saddles and all our equipments were by this time lamentably worn and battered, and our weapons had become dull and rusty. The dress of the riders fully corresponded with the dilapidated furniture of our horses, and of the whole party none made a more disreputable appearance than my friend and I. Shaw had for an upper garment an old red flannel shirt, flying open in front and belted around him like a frock; while I, in absence of other clothing, was attired in a time-worn suit of leather.