There were tears in the old hunter’s eyes as he relinquished young Wells’s hands and watched him fade from his sight. His mother, unable to live longer without him, had made the trip from New York, and now that she had him in her possession there was no escape. They took the first stage out of the village that night on their return trip for New York State.
But the mother’s victory was short-lived and barren. Within three years after the son’s return, he failed in two business enterprises in which his father started him. Nothing discouraged, his parents offered him a third opportunity, it containing, however, a marriage condition. But the voice of a siren, singing of flowery prairies and pecan groves on the Salado, in which could be heard the music of hounds and the clattering of horses’ hoofs at full speed following, filled every niche and corner of his heart, and he balked at the marriage offer.
When the son had passed his thirtieth year, his parents became resigned and gave their consent to his return to Texas. Long before parental consent was finally obtained, it was evident to his many friends that the West had completely won him; and once the desire of his heart was secured, the languid son beamed with energy in outfitting for his return. He wrung the hands of old friends with a new grip, and with boyish enthusiasm announced his early departure.
On the morning of leaving, quite a crowd of friends and relatives gathered at the depot to see him off. But when a former college chum attempted to remonstrate with him on the social sacrifice which he was making, he turned to the group of friends, and smilingly said, “That’s all right. You are honest in thinking that New York is God’s country. But out there in Texas also is, for it is just as God made it. Why, I’m going to start a cattle ranch as soon as I get there and go back to nature. Don’t pity me. Rather let me pity you, who think, act, and look as if turned out of the same mill. Any social sacrifices which I make in leaving here will be repaid tenfold by the freedom and advantages of the boundless West.”
THE DOUBLE TRAIL
Early in the summer of ’78 we were rocking along with a herd of Laurel Leaf cattle, going up the old Chisholm trail in the Indian Territory. The cattle were in charge of Ike Inks as foreman, and had been sold for delivery somewhere in the Strip.
There were thirty-one hundred head, straight “twos,” and in the single ranch brand. We had been out about four months on the trail, and all felt that a few weeks at the farthest would let us out, for the day before we had crossed the Cimarron River, ninety miles south of the state line of Kansas.
The foreman was simply killing time, waiting for orders concerning the delivery of the cattle. All kinds of jokes were in order, for we all felt that we would soon be set free. One of our men had been taken sick, as we crossed Red River into the Nations, and not wanting to cross this Indian country short-handed, Inks had picked up a young fellow who evidently had never been over the trail before.