I must have started when I saw him; for he glanced at me sharply and suspiciously, and his dog-like brown eyes darted about for a moment, as if the dog in him had scented game: then he looked at my jaded cows, at my muddy wagon, its once-white cover now weather-beaten and ragged, and at myself, a buttermilk-eyed, tow-headed Dutch boy with a face covered with down like a month-old gosling; and his eyes grew warm and friendly, as they usually looked, and his curly black mustache parted from his little black goatee with a winning smile. After he had turned his horse over to the smith, he came over and talked with me. He said he had seen cows broken to drive by the Pukes—as we used to call the Missourians—but never except by those who were so “pore” that they couldn’t get horses, and he could see by my nice outfit, and the number of cows I had, that I could buy and sell some of the folks that drove horses. What was my idea in driving cows?
“They are faster than oxen,” I said, “and they’ll make a start in stock for me when I get on my farm; and they give milk when you’re traveling. I traded my horses for my first cows, and I’ve been trading one sound cow for two lame ones all along the road. I’ve got some more back along the way.”
“Right peart notion,” said he. “I reckon you’ll do for Iowa. Where you goin’?”
Then I explained about my farm, and my problem in finding it.
“Oh, that’s easy!” said he. “Oh, Mr. Burns!” he called to a man standing in a doorway across the street. “Come over here, if you can make it suit. He’s a land-locater,” he explained to me. “Makes it a business to help newcomers like you to get located. Nice man, too.”
By this time Henderson L. Burns had started across the street. He was dressed stylishly, and came with a sort of prance, his head up and his nostrils flaring like a Jersey bull’s, looking as popular as a man could appear. We always called him “Henderson L.” to set him apart from Hiram L. Burns, a lawyer that tried to practise here for a few years, and didn’t make much of an out of it.
“Mr. Burns,” said Pitt Bushyager, “this is Mr.—”
“Vandemark,” said I: “Jacob Vandemark”—you see I did not know then that my correct name is Jacobus.
“Mine’s Bushyager,” said he, “Pitt Bushyager, Got a raft of brothers and sisters—so you’ll know us better after a while. Mr. Burns, this is Mr. Vandemark.”
“Glad to meet you, Mr. Vandemark,” said Henderson L., flaring his nostrils, and shaking my hand till it ached. “Hope you’re locating in Monterey County. Father with you?”
“No,” said I, “I am alone in the world—and this outfit is all I’ve got.”