On thus being deserted, and complying with an inborn instinct of fear, he made his first attempt to rise and follow, and although unsuccessful it caused his mother to return and by her gentle nosings and lickings to calm him. Then in an effort to rise he struggled to his knees, only to collapse like a limp rag. But after several such attempts he finally stood on his feet, unsteady on his legs, and tottering like one drunken. Then his mother nursed him, and as the new milk warmed his stomach he gained sufficient assurance of his footing to wiggle his tail and to butt the feverish caked udder with his velvety muzzle. After satisfying his appetite he was loath to lie down and rest, but must try his legs in toddling around to investigate this strange world into which he had been ushered. He smelled of the rich green leaves of the mesquite, which hung in festoons about his birth chamber, and trampled underfoot the grass which carpeted the bower.
After several hours’ sleep he was awakened by a strange twittering above him. The moon and stars, which were shining so brightly at the moment of his birth, had grown pale. His mother was the first to rise, but heedless of her entreaties he lay still, bewildered by the increasing light. Animals, however, have their own ways of teaching their little ones, and on the dam’s first pretense of deserting him he found his voice, and uttering a plaintive cry, struggled to his feet, which caused his mother to return and comfort him.
Later she enticed him out of the thicket to enjoy his first sun bath. The warmth seemed to relieve the stiffness in his joints, and after each nursing during the day he attempted several awkward capers in his fright at a shadow or the rustle of a leaf. Near the middle of the afternoon, his mother being feverish, it was necessary that she should go to the river and slake her thirst. So she enticed him to a place where the grass in former years had grown rank, and as soon as he lay down she cautioned him to be quiet during her enforced absence, and though he was a very young calf he remembered and trusted in her. It was several miles to the river, and she was gone two whole hours, but not once did he disobey. A passing ranchero reined in and rode within three feet of him, but he did not open an eye or even twitch an ear to scare away a fly.
The horseman halted only long enough to notice the flesh-marks. The calf was a dark red except for a white stripe which covered the right side of his face, including his ear and lower jaw, and continued in a narrow band beginning on his withers and broadening as it extended backward until it covered his hips. Aside from his good color the ranchman was pleased with his sex, for a steer those days was better than gold. So the cowman rode away with a pleased expression on his face, but there is a profit and loss account in all things.